A-10 Champs! Softball Shuts Out Fordham, 7-0, For 17th League Crown
May 14, 2005
BRONX, N.Y. -- Massachusetts (37-14-1) won its 17th Atlantic 10 Softball Championship with a 7-0 blanking of top-seeded and host-school Fordham (38-16) Saturday afternoon. For the second consecutive day, the Minutewomen tagged A-10 Pitcher of the Year, Sara Kinney. This time, UMass recorded six earned runs on six hits off Kinney. UMass set a championship record with eight home runs, shattering the previous mark of three set by Penn State in 1988. Junior pitcher Jenna Busa (Lexington, Mass.) pitched a six-hit shutout and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. She went 3-0 during the championship.
Joining Busa on the All-Tournament team were seniors Hilary Puglia (Stoneham, Mass.) and Denise Denis (Middle Grove, N.Y.), junior KJ Kelley (Rainier, Ore.), sophomore Amanda Morin (Worcester, Mass.) and freshman Stacy Cullington (Encinitas, Calif.).
Puglia set the tone for UMass in the championship gamer by homering off Kinney on the first pitch of the game. She turned on an inside fast ball and blasted it over the wall in left. Fordham loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Busa would be able to get out of the jam. The Rams left nine runners on base throughout the course of the afternoon.
Both teams were retired in order in the second inning, but UMass opened up the game in the third inning. Morin singled with one out and then Kelley walked to put two on for Denis. She came through with her second three-run home run in as many days. Her towering shot cleared the right-field wall and gave the Minutewomen a 4-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the third, Fordham had runners on second and third with one out, but Busa again was able to get out of the jam. The Minutewomen kept up the offense in the fourth and knocked Kinney out of the game with two more runs. Morin drove in a run with a double into the left-center field gap. Kelley then drove Morin home with a single to left-center.
UMass capped its week in style when Cullington homered off Fordham reliever Rachael Wiggins. It marked her third home run in the championship. Cullington alone hit as many home runs as Penn State did in the 1988 championship, the most by one team.
Busa worked around the jams for her first career playoff shutout. She walked two and struck out three. Her three wins in the championship tied the most by an individual. That mark is held by several players. Busa went 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA. She allowed just one earned run.
As a team, Massachusetts had a .373 batting average this weekend. Opponents hit just .222. Of the Minutewomen's 28 hits, 17 went for extra-base hits. That is an .813 slugging percentage.
UMass will now advance to its 11th straight and 15th overall NCAA Tournament. The selection show will air at 7:30 PM live on ESPNNEWS. In the first round, there will be 16, four-team regionals. The first round is a double-elimination format and will be held May 20-22, at campus sites across the country.