May 9, 2009
BRONX, N.Y. - Top-seeded University of Massachusetts senior pitcher Brandice Balschmiter, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Pitcher and Player of the Year, added to her trophy haul today as she threw five innings of one-hit ball to lead the Minutewomen to an 11-0 win over fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's and the 2009 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship at Fordham University's Bahoshy Softball Field.
Balschmiter added to her accolades at the championship, garnering 2009 Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Player honors, allowing just one run in three games while striking out 21 and walking four. She wins her fourth straight Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Player award, becoming the second player to earn four consecutive A-10 Most Outstanding Player awards, joining former Massachusetts pitcher Danielle Henderson who received the honor from 1996-99.
The Massachusetts win derailed an amazing run by Saint Joseph's, who lost the first game of the championship to Fordham, 5-3, and then came back to win four straight elimination games to advance to the title contest.
Saint Joseph's set an Atlantic 10 Championship record with 26 runs scored this year, surpassing the former mark of 25 set by Massachusetts in 2005. The Hawks also tied a championship record with eight stolen bases, a record set by Massachusetts in 1999 and matched by Charlotte in 2008.
Individually, Balschmiter and Saint Joseph's pitcher Dani Gonzales each tied the Atlantic 10 Championship mark with three wins in the tournament, a feat which has now been accomplished 13 times. Balschmiter won three games for the fourth straight year.
Also on Saturday, Massachusetts' Carly Normandin tied a championship record with two stolen bases as did Saint Louis' Kristin Nicoletti, who swiped a pair of bases against Saint Joseph's on Friday. The two become the 11th and 12th players to steal two bases in an A-10 Championship game.
#24/20 Massachusetts continued to hit the long ball, recording two home runs in the championship game to bring its total to seven in three games at the tournament, one shy of the championship record set by the Minutewomen in 2005. Massachusetts has now gone deep 15 times in six A-10 championships games in the Bronx. The Minutewomen won the 2005 championship on Bahoshy Field while hitting a record eight round trippers in three games.
In the championship game, Massachusetts used a seven-run fourth, highlighted by a three-run home run from Whitney Williams, to extend a 4-0 lead to an 11-0 advantage, causing the game to be called in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.
The Minutewomen got on the board early, picking up a run in the first on back-to-back doubles from Whitney Mollica and Sarah Reeves.
A two-run home run from Jessica Serio in the second, her sixth of the year, made it a 3-0 game before Massachusetts picked up another run in the third, on an RBI double off the bat of Samantha Salato.
The Hawks picked up their only hit of the game in the top of the fourth when Dana Bieniek singled off of Balschmiter's glove with one out, but she was erased on a Monica Aguilar fielder's choice.
Serio opened the Massachusetts fourth with a double with Stephanie Mix coming on to pinch run. One out later, Mix took third on a wild pitch before Normandin walked and stole second. Williams cleared the bases with her eighth home run of the year, a shot that easily cleared the fence in right center. Mollica then reached on an error, stole second and moved to third when Reeves reached on another Saint Joseph's error. Salato delivered Mollica with a ground out and Audrey Boutin was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Kyllie Magill brought in Reeves when she reached on the third Hawk error of the inning and Serio followed with a single to plate Boutin and give the Minutewomen a 10-0 lead. Pinch hitter Michelle Libby then singled in the final run of the inning.
Balschmiter then retired the Hawks in the top of the fifth, allowing a base runner when she hit Gonzales with one out, to seal the win for Massachusetts.
Serio led the Massachusetts attack, going 3-for-3 with three RBI while William drove in three runs with her home run. Balschmiter goes to 31-4 on the year as Massachusetts improves to 38-8 on the season.
Saint Joseph's closes out the season with a 27-20 record.
Game 8 - Saint Joseph's 3, Charlotte 0
Saint Joseph's advanced to the championship game by staying alive in the loser's bracket, winning its fourth straight game after falling to Fordham in the tournament opener. Once again, the star for the Hawks was pitcher Dani Gonzales, who threw a complete-game, five-hitter, striking out seven.
Saint Joseph's scored all the runs it would need in the fourth as with one out, Erika Rosenwinkel was hit by a pitch, Gonzales reached on an error and Shumock walked to load the bases. Sue Lebow then broke the scoreless tie, driving in Rosenwinkel and Gonzales with a single to left. Christine Bednar came on to pinch run for Shumock at second and, one out later, the runners pulled off a double steal. A Laura Cardone single scored Bednar but Shumock was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on the play.
The 49ers threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with one out. Whitney Williams and Serena Smith led off the Charlotte seventh with back-to-back singles but Williams was erased at third on a Tenaya Tucker fielder's choice. Cee Brooks followed with a single to load the bases but Keri Palma grounded a ball to Saint Joseph's third baseman Monica Aguilar, who threw home in time to force Smith. Gonzales then induced Jaime West to ground out to second to end the game.
With the win, Gonzales goes to 15-12 on the year for Saint Joseph's. Williams had two hits for Charlotte, who closes out the season with a 33-16 record.
2009 Atlantic 10 Championship Awards
Most Outstanding Player: Brandice Balschmiter, Massachusetts
Monica Aguilar, Saint Joseph's
Brandice Balschmiter, Massachusetts
Dana Bieniek, Saint Joseph's
Dani Gonzales, Saint Joseph's
Emily Jeffery, Charlotte
Whitney Mollica, Massachusetts
Bernadette Moran, Saint Joseph's
Sarah Reeves, Massachusetts
Jessica Serio, Massachusetts
Beckah Wiggins, Fordham
Whitney Williams, Massachusetts