Lady Rams Crowned Champs Again
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 12- By coincidence, the Atlantic-10 Softball Championship was played on the home field, Bahoshy Field in the Bronx, of the #1 seed, the Fordham Rams. The home field had been a decided advantage to the Rams this year as they were winners in 14 of the 15 games they played during the regular season at Fordham.
Fordham’s Bridget Orchard, the Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, appeared to have her team primed for the tournament as the Rams were victorious in 15 of their final 17 regular season games. They lost their last two contests to Dayton after winning 15 in a row.
The Rams, the first seed in the A-10 Championship received a first round bye last Wednesday. They faced the University of Massachusetts, the victor over Dayton in the first round, at noon on Thursday.
With the bases loaded in the second, Rachel Gillen grounded into a fielder’s choice that drove in the first run of the game. UMass tied the game at one in the third, but that was the last run scored by the visitors.
Fordham catcher Gabby Luety blasted a three-run homer in the third. Two innings later, third sacker Kayla Lombardo hit a two-run home run to move Fordham ahead by a score of 6-1.
With the bases filled and two out in the bottom of the sixth, the Rams added three more runs on three singles by Paige Ortiz, Gillen and Cora Ianiro to end the game, 9-1, by the mercy rule.
A-10 Co-Pitcher of the Year Michele Daubman was the winner of her 16th game of the season.A-10 Player of the Elise Fortier failed to get a hit but scored three runs.
The winners of each contest, Fordham and #2 seed St. Louis, met at noon last Friday. Interestingly, the Atlantic-10 Co-Pitchers of the Year, Daubman for Fordham and Brianna Lore of the Billikins, were in the circle to start the contest.
To no one’s surprise, the hurlers engaged in a pitchers’ duel in which no runs were scored during the first five frames. Billikins worked Daubman for a run in the sixth with a lead-off single, a sacrifice but that pushed the runner to second and a run scoring single by Kelsey Biggs.
The Rams took the final lead in the seventh in a most exciting manner. With one out, Fortier took a 3-2 over the fence in right to tie the game at 1. The homer was her 18th of the 2014 campaign and her 44th at Fordham, one short of the school record. The next batter, Lombardo, followed with her 10th of the season to give the Rams their final lead.
Lombardo, Fordham’s third sacker, spoke about the back-to-back homers after the game, “Elise and I, the third and fourth hitters, are supposed to put the ball out of the park. In that situation, we were just doing our job.”
Daubman’s 18th win of the season was protected by Patti Maloney, who earned her A-10 record sixth save of the year.
The two teams met again on Saturday afternoon in the championship final. Lombardo, a junior, expressed her feelings about the championship encounter after the win on Friday, “We’re set to play our game and go out with the same desire and hunger that we always have. We’re just on a mission. We want to repeat so badly.”
Lombardo did not underestimate her teammates as Fordham defeated St. Louis by a score of 11-0 in the Championship final on Saturday. Freshman Sydney Canassa led off the bottom of the first with a home run to put Fordham ahead. A double by Amy Van Hooten and an rbi single by Luety scored the second run of the inning.
The Rams scored four in the second capped by a two-run homer by Fortier. The home run was her 19th of the season and her 45th as a Ram. Thus, she broke the Fordham career mark for four baggers in only three seasons as she spent her freshman year at Stony Brook.
Six hits and an error gave Fordham six runs in the third frame. Luety began the damage with a home run.
Again, the Co-Pitchers of the Year of the Atlantic-10 began the game in the circle. Lore of the Billikins had pitched two games on Friday and was obviously not up to her usual manner. She gave up 11 runs and 11 hits in 2+ innings. She was unable to retire any of the five batters she faced in the third. Daubman who pitched two hit ball in the five innings of the game, earned her third win. She was voted the MVP of the Championship. Luety, Daubman’s catcher remarked, “She [Daubman] perfected everything this year.”
The A-10 championship for the Rams was their third in the last four years. The victory automatically qualifies Fordham for the NCAA National Softball Tournament. On the evening of Sunday, the brackets of the tournament were announced. Fordham is going to Tallahassee on Friday evening to face #8 seed Florida State. The two other schools in the foursome are South Florida and South Carolina. The tourney is a double elimination so the rams will also be facing at least one of the other Southern colleges.