Softball Eliminated From A-10 Tourmament
May 14, 2004
AMHERST, Mass. - Saint Joseph's (21-27) and Temple (27-16) will meet tomorrow in the championship bracket of the 2004 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship. The Owls will need to win twice in order to win the double-elimination tournament. Saint Joseph's snapped host-school Massachusetts' (33-15) 73-game home winning streak with a 3-0 win to start the second day of play at the UMass Softball Complex. After Temple eliminated Fordham (35-24-1), 1-0, it upset Massachusetts, 4-3, to get into the winner's bracket.
In game one, SJU scored three runs in the top of the first inning and pitcher Dana Travis (16-10) shut out Massachusetts on five hits and two walks to snap the nation's longest winning streak at 72 games. Travis fanned three as the Hawks advanced to their first championship game in the 22-year history of the program.
Megan Richardson and Lindsey McNamara both singled and then Alicia Cunic walked to bring Jill Clementi to the plate. She chopped a ground ball to shortstop Hilary Puglia, whose throw home was high as Richardson slid home with what proved to be the winning run. Robin Berry walked in McNamara and Rachel Pawlikowski's RBI-groundout to shortstop plated Cunic to give SJU a 3-0 lead.
Travis got out of trouble in the sixth as two straight walks put Minutewomen on first and second with no outs. Pinch-hitter Denise Denis then hit a screaming line-drive up the middle that was snared by Clementi at second, who proceeded to step on the bag for a double-play. After retiring the first two batters in the seventh, Kristi Stefanoni laced a double off the top of the fence in left and Aisha Franke reached on an error to bring up Puglia, the A-10 Player of the Year. Travis enticed Puglia into a popup to shortstop Cara Deldeo to end the game.
In game two, Temple scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Makeala Compton singled and pinch runner Nicole Undercuffler was sacrificed to second two batters later. With two outs and the potential go-ahead run in scoring position, Katie Weigle singled through the middle to drive home Undercuffler with what turned out to be the winning run.
A-10 Pitcher of the Year Kim Watkins (11-1) gave up just one hit in six innings before giving way to Richelle Villescas. Watkins waked two and struck out four. Villescas pitched a perfect seventh inning to record her third save of the year. Freshman of the Year Sara Kinney (16-14) took the loss for Fordham. She scattered five hits and walked two while fanning four.
The Rams had their best chance to score in the first as Krystle Henry opened the game reaching on an error and she stole second. Erin Brooks then reached on another error, putting runners on first and second. One out later, Katie Davis reached on a fielder's choice with Henry being forced out at third. Ivy Pollock then grounded out to end the threat.
In the third game of the day, Temple scored three runs, two of which were unearned off of UMass pitcher Jenna Busa in the first inning. Weigle was hit by a pitch to start the game and was sacrificed to second two batters later. After Adrienne Repsher walked, Alexis Gary singled to right driving home Weigle with the first run of the game. TU's Laura Gutscher then hit a ground ball to third base. UMass' Katie Jo Kelley threw the ball away and two runs were able to score.
Massachusetts came right back with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Puglia and Candice Molinari both reached on errors. Puglia scored when Molinari reached. Two batters later Denis tripled home Molinari with the second Massachusetts run, but that all they could get.
The Owls got one of the runs back on a RBI double by Jessica Rohn in the top of the second and the score remained 4-2 Temple until the bottom of the seventh inning.
Puglia tried to ignite a one-out Massachusetts rally by singling. Two batters later, Kelley was intentionally walked to bring Denis, the winning run, to the plate. Denis singled up the middle to keep the rally going and drove home Puglia with the third run of the game. Pam Sulick was the next batter and flew out to left field to end the game and propel Temple into the winner's bracket.
Villescas (14-13) went the distance for the Owls. She scattered seven hits and a walk while fanning two. Busa (13-8) pitched the first five-plus innings and gave up four runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks. She fanned two. Massachusetts left eight runners on base and also hit into one double play.
Temple, which has won 12 of the last 13 games against its cross-city rival, will need to win twice tomorrow for its first outright championship. The Owls shared the title with Massachusetts in 1990. Saint Joseph's is making its first appearance in the title game. First pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m. and live audio will be available on www.atlantic10.org.
Massachusetts will await word on a possible at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will air Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNEWS. There are 64 teams in the field with 38 at-large teams getting in. UMass has appeared in the last nine NCAA Tournaments.