GW Softball Advances to A-10 Title Game with 14-Inning 4-1 Win Over Fordham
May 11, 2012
ST. LOUIS - The George Washington softball team knocked off defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham, 4-1, in a 14-inning marathon on Friday evening to reach Saturday's A-10 title game at Saint Louis University's Billiken Sports Center. Earlier on Friday, the Colonials defeated Saint Joseph's, 1-0, to advance to the semifinals.
No. 4 GW will get a rematch with top-seeded Massachusetts, which defeated the Colonials, 5-2, on Thursday afternoon. GW must beat the Minutewomen twice to win the title, while UMass needs just one win for the crown. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the game can be viewed live by click on the Watch Live link above or visiting Atlantic10.com.
The Colonials improve to 25-29 on the year, breaking the program record for wins in a season. Just two days after picking up its first-ever postseason victory with a 9-2 triumph over Charlotte in the tournament's first game, GW will now go for its first-ever A-10 title and trip to the NCAA Tournament.
In what could have been the last game of her career, senior Kara Clauss (15-18) went the distance, scattering 10 hits - all singles - and walking just two in 14 innings. She faced 56 batters and threw a whopping 158 pitches.
Clauss and Fordham ace Jen Mineau were locked in a pitchers' duel, as the game remained scoreless for three innings. It was GW which struck first when freshman Victoria Valos led off the fourth with a long home run over the left field fence. It was Valos' 10th homer of the year, tying senior Lauren Wilson and junior Autumn Taylor, as well as former Colonias' slugger Jackie Yaniga, for the single-season record.
The Colonials maintained their 1-0 lead until the bottom of the seventh. Down to their final three outs, the second-seeded Rams rallied to tie it on a one-out sacrifice fly by Jamie Labovick. Fordham had a chance to win as pinch hitter Kat Van Benschoten singled to left, but sophomore Alexandra Del Prete, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement to start the inning, fired a perfect throw home to gun down Chelsea Palumbo at the plate and send the game to extra innings.
Both teams had their chances in extra innings, combining to strand eight runners on base over the next six frames, but it was the 14th inning that proved to be lucky for GW.
Wilson walked with one out and stole second base. Junior Julie Orlandi's grounder was fielded by the shortstop, who opted to go to second, but Wilson got back to the bag and both runners were safe. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, Valos laid down a bunt, and Wilson came home on the suicide squeeze to break the tie. But the Colonials were not done there, as Valos moved to second on the play at the plate, and Orlandi was able to score when the Rams threw to second to try to catch Valos. Taylor then grounded out to bring Valos home for a 4-1 lead.
After needing just two pitches to get the first two outs of the bottom of the 14th, Clauss allowed a base hit to Labovick, but bounced back to get Lindsey Kay Bright to ground out to end the game.
Mineau (25-15) struck out 20 Colonials' batters in the complete game, but took the loss. She allowed four runs on 10 hits and four walks and also hit two batters.
Orlandi, Valos and Taylor - GW's second, third and fourth hitters - combined for seven hits. Two of Valos' three hits went for extra bases, as she finished a triple shy of the cycle, and she added two RBIs and two runs scored.
In the first game of the day, senior Heidi Penna and Clauss combined to blank sixth-seeded Saint Joseph's, 1-0.
Penna and Hawks' starter Erin Gallagher matched each other pitch-for-pitch, as the teams' combined for just four hits through the first four innings.
The Colonials broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth. The rally began when senior Amanda Zakeri struck out, but reached first on a passed ball with one out. After a pop-up made the second out of the inning, Zakeri stole second and advanced to third when the catcher's throw went into center field. Junior Kristi Saporito came in to pinch hit - her first at-bat of the tournament - and she punched a single through the right side to plate Zakeri with what proved to be the winning run.
Penna had cruised through the first five innings, allowing just four hits, but she ran into trouble to start the sixth, as the first two batters reached base. Clauss came in and escaped the jam, then retired the side in order in the seventh to seal the victory and eliminate the Hawks.
Penna (7-2) earned the win, while Clauss picked up her third save of the season and second of the tournament. Gallagher (12-15) suffered the tough-luck loss after allowing just one unearned run on three hits and one walk in the six-inning complete game.