From University of Rochester Athletics
Lauren Muni hit her sixth home run of the year – this one
with one down in the sixth – to snap a 3-3 tie and carry the
University of Rochester past Messiah College, 4-3, in the NCAA
Division III Softball Championships at Southside Field on
With the victory, Rochester (28-12) advances to Sunday's championship game against Alfred University (29-10) at noon. Alfred edged Rochester, 8-7, in a winner's bracket game earlier on Saturday. If Rochester wins the noon game, the same two teams will play at 2:30 p.m. Alfred needs just one win Sunday to move on. Rochester must win twice to advance.
Brittany Grage pitched 4.1 innings of three-hit relief with two walks and one strikeout to get the victory. Eleni Wechsler started for the Yellowjackets. She pitched 2.2 innings, allowing five hits, three runs (all earned) with one walk and two strikeouts. Grage is 15-6.
The loss went to Messiah's Claressa Mees (13-4) who pitched a total of 11.2 innings on the afternoon. Mees threw 4.2 innings of relief in Messiah's 14-6 win over Marywood University. She came back half an hour later to pitch seven innings, allowing four hits, four runs (all earned), with one walk and three strikeouts.
"All year long, we've been able to alternate pitchers," said Messiah coach Amy Weaver. "Today, we couldn't do that. It's been a while since Claressa pitched that much (on one day)."
With the score tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning, Muni worked the count full before hitting a home run over the left field fence. It ended a streak of six consecutive outs recorded by Mees. The Falcons' pitcher set down 11 of the last 12 she faced.
Messiah found its hitting touch in Saturday's first game, a 14-6 win over Marywood. The Falcons produced eight more hits – two apiece by Becky Notte (one RBI) and Krista Ammon (two RBIs). "We just didn't get enough together," Weaver said.
The Falcons scored three runs in the third to push in front. With one out, Brooke Pompeo doubled to left center. Amanda Jones popped up. Courtney Allen, who had six RBIs vs. Marywood, walked. Notte looped a single down the left field line, scoring Pompeo. Ammon doubled off the center field fence to bring home two more. That hit knocked Wechsler out of the game. Grage ended the inning by getting Nicole Blantz on a popup to second.
Rochester answered in the fourth. Meg Hennessy singled through the right side and Nina Korn walked. Wechsler singled to short, loading the bases. Muni was hit by a pitch, bringing home Hennessy with the first Rochester run.
Grage bounced to short where Jones' throw home forced Korn at the plate for the first out and left the bases loaded. Pinch-hitter Ashley Amidon doubled to right center scoring two runs. Mees escaped further damage. Ammon caught a pop up on a bunt attempt by Shelby Corning for the second out and Tiffany White grounded out.
"I can't say enough about what Ashley has done for us," said Rochester head coach Margaret Yerdon-Grange of Amidon's hit. "For her to come up like that with runners in scoring position and do what she does is a tremendous boost."
Grage got into one jam after Rochester tied the score. In the fifth, she walked Allen, struck out Notte, and gave up a single to Ammon. Blantz bunted the runners over. Mees walked to load the bases, before Emily Quatrale bounced into a force play at second. Grage set down the side in order in the sixth. In the seventh, she retired Allen on a groundout. Notte singled to left. Ammon's grounder forced Notte at second, and Blantz grounded out to end the game.
"I couldn't think about these are the #4 (Notte) and #5 (Ammon) hitters and this is what they like to do," Grage said. "I tried to throw the ball where I could."