AKRON, Ohio - Following their first opening game victory in school history, the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) softball team (23-20) fell short in their quest for a United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship on Tuesday, falling to No. 2 Carlow University 9-1 and No. 5 Penn State Hazelton 2-1 in the double-elimination tournament.
In the seventh-place game and rematch of the opening round, No. 10 Cincinnati-Clermont enacted revenge with a dramatic 9-7 triumph.
The Lady Bears began the busy day with an opportunity to upset No. 2 Carlow. The Celtics claimed an early 1-0 advantage in the first inning, but St. Joseph's answered in the second. Following a walk and a single, junior Erica Eddy's (Glendale, N.Y./Christ the King) base knock brought the Lady Bears even.
But Carlow controlled the remainder of the contest to steer clear of an upset, plating two runs in the third inning, two more in the fourth and four in the fifth.
Senior Emily Pritts was a force on offense and defense, going 3-for-3 with a game-high three RBI at the plate coupled with a complete-game victory in the circle.
St. Joseph's starter Theresa Armano (Middle Village, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) fell to 11-10, surrendering eight earned in 4.1 innings of work.
Facing elimination against Penn State Hazelton, the Lady Bears engaged in an intense pitchers' duel with their championship hopes at stake.
Starters Jamilynn McGowan (Staten Island, N.Y./Michael J. Petrides) and Sara Stauffer threw up zeroes in the first three innings.
Penn State drew first blood with a three-hit, two-run rally in the fourth. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the seventh.
Three outs from elimination, St. Joseph's mustered a rally to threaten a late comeback. After Eddy's RBI groundout cut the deficit in half, Stauffer remained composed to deliver the final out and secure the victory.
Along with her 2-for-3 performance at the plate, Stauffer allowed just one run in seven innings to remain undefeated in the circle (8-0).
McGowan dropped to 11-9 despite shutting Penn State out in six out of seven innings.
Following elimination, the Lady Bears were matched up against Cincinnati-Clermont in the seventh-place game, who they controlled 9-1 on Monday in the opening round.
Clermont gained early control following freshman Kristen York's three-run homerun in the third.
After a quiet first three innings, St. Joseph's erupted for six hits and seven runs in the fourth inning to grab the lead and momentum. Freshman Destiny Marino (Middle Village, N.Y./Christ the King) kickstarted the rally with a game-tying three-run blast. Senior Jackie Perillo (Howard Beach, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) then delivered a go-ahead two-RBI single to give the Lady Bears their first lead.
Clermont tacked on two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to draw closer. The Lady Bears took the field in the bottom of the seventh inning nursing a 7-6 advantage and three outs from victory.
But the Cougars had late-game heroics in store. Following York's game-tying double, junior Alex Taylor smashed a two-run dinger to walkoff with the dramatic seventh-place victory.
Armano (11-11) suffered the loss after throwing the final three innings in relief of McGowan. Opposing starter Carsen Gerome improved to 2-0 in the circle despite surrendering ten hits in seven innings.
The Lady Bears' championship hopes were cut short on Tuesday, but they concluded their 2015 season on a positive note after earning their first USCAA Tournament berth since 2012 and winning their opening round matchup for the first time in school history. They also secured their seventh 20-plus win season in program history, finishing 23-20.