Softball Wins Eighth Consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship
May 11, 2002
KINGSTON, R.I. - The No. 1 seed University of Massachusetts softball team defeated No. 4 Rhode Island twice, 6-1 and 8-0, this afternoon to claim its eighth consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament title. With the victories, the Minutewomen, now 52-11 overall, receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament, May 16-19. The host site will be announced Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m.
In game one, Massachusetts shelled eight hits off of URI's all-conference pitcher Gwen Rack and took advantage of seven Rhode Island errors to defeat the Rams, 6-1.
Rhode Island utilized one hit and two UMass errors to take the 1-0 lead in the top of the third. With one out and runners on first and second, Kristin Havdouglas laid down a bunt that UMass fielded but threw away, allowing Kim Custance to score.
UMass answered in the bottom half of the frame when junior Kaila Holtz (North Vancouver, British Columbia) hit a two-out bases loaded double to the left field fence to score three runs. Senior Ashley Bakken (Phoenix, Ariz.) reached base on a dropped third strike and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Emily Robustelli (Stamford, Conn.). Senior Teri Rooney (Visalia, Calif.) then laced a single up the middle and moved to second on the throw to place runners on second and third. Senior Scooter Wheeler (Kingsburg, Calif.) was then hit by a pitch for the 15th time this season to load the bases for Holtz. Holtz' blast hit the left field fence to clear the bags and put UMass up, 3-1.
Massachusetts added two more runs in the fourth on four hits and a Ram error. Junior Anna Perey (Chino Valley, Ariz.) led off with a single that dropped in between the second baseman and right fielder. A ground out by sophomore Aisha Franke (Philadelphia, Pa.) moved Perey to second and a single by Bakken moved Perey to third. A failed squeeze bunt left Perey out to dry and she was picked off trying to return to third base. Robustelli then doubled down the right field line to plate Bakken. A single to right field by Rooney scored Robustelli and gave UMass the 5-1 advantage.
The Minutewomen added an insurance run in the fifth on no hits and two errors. With two outs, the Rams' first baseman misplayed a ground ball, allowing Wheeler to score from third. Wheeler had reached base on a walk and moved to third on a fielder's choice by Holtz.
Senior Jennifer Hadley (Bristol, Conn.) earned the win to improve to 24-5. Hadley held Rhode Island to three hits, while striking out four. Rack earned the loss as she gave up eight hits and five runs, all unearned.
The UMass victory forced a do-or-die final game against Rhode Island for the A-10 Championship Tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament.
In game two, UMass capitalized on six Rhode Island errors and 12 hits to defeat the Rams, 8-0, in the championship final.
Massachusetts jumped on top in the bottom of the third with two runs on two hits and a Rhode Island error. Robustelli lined a shot into left field that was dropped, leaving her on second base. Robustelli moved to third on a ground out by Rooney and scored on a single to shallow right-center by junior Brandi Cross (Diamond Bar, Calif.). Holtz drove in Cross on a single through the right side to give UMass the 2-0 edge.
The Minutewomen added to its lead in the fourth on five hits and two Ram errors. Perey led off the frame with a single up the middle and Franke followed with a bunt single. Bakken then singled to third base, scoring Perey. Robustelli kept the rally going with a single through the left side to score Franke. Rooney sacrificed the runners to second and third and a hit up the middle by Cross ricocheted off of Rack on the mound, allowing Bakken to score. Robustelli then stole home on a passed ball to put UMass on top, 6-0.
The Minutewomen scored two more runs in the fifth to force the eight run mercy rule. Sophomore Jamie Cahalan (Mesa, Ariz.) kicked off the inning with a triple to right field and she scored on a URI error. Robustelli followed with a single to left field, which scored Bakken to end the game.
Holtz (23-6) earned the victory as she limited the Rams to one hit, while striking out three. Rack took the loss to drop to 20-13.
Holtz was named the tournament MVP as she allowed no earned runs over three games, while fanning 11. Joining Holtz on the all-tournament team were Cross, Cahalan, Franke, Hadley, Perey and Wheeler.