Entering its final competition of the season, UR softball swept a double header against the Thoroughbreds of Skidmore College to claim sole possession of first place in the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association, finishing with an overall record of 12-23 and 4-2 in the UCAA.
The Yellowjackets rebounded from a pair of losses to SUNY Fredonia April 25, as it swept UCAA opponent Renssalear 6-2 and 3-2 at home Friday April 27th to set up a close battle for the UCAA title. Going into their final day of UCAA competition, the defending UCAA champions of St. Lawrence University and the Yellowjackets both held 4-2 records within the conference.
The two teams had met April 22, where UR rallied from a 5-9 loss in the first half of the doubleheader to win the second game 3-0.
Aware that these final games would decide the UCAA champion, UR rose to the challenge and defeated Skidmore 7-0 and 4-2 to complete their season. The sweep gave UR a 6-2 record within the conference while St. Lawrence split its double header with RPI, bringing its final conference record to 5-3. Union College, the Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore rounded out the final standings in the UCAA respectively.
In the first game, freshman pitcher Kathy Gagne struck out seven and allowed just one hit enroute to her seventh victory of the year and her fifth in the past two weeks.
UR took control of the game in the third inning as sophomore outfielder Val Palermo and senior catcher and co-captain Kristy Krivickas doubled in two runs apiece. Palermo went on to bring in another run in the fourth inning before scoring off a double by junior infielder and co-captain Nellie Coats.
Palermo and Gagne were both honored by the UCAA in being named this week?s hitter and rookie of the week respectively. Skidmore took the lead in the after four scoreless innings in the second game. Its single run in the top of the fifth inning was countered by three UR runs, as Palermo drove in two runs off a triple and scored again off a base hit by Coats.
The Thoroughbreds would score once more in the top of the sixth inning. UR answered back in the bottom of the sixth with a run of its own and never looked back as it finished with the 4-2 win. Freshman pitcher Melissa Arms recorded the victory without walking a single batter and stranding eight.
?It was great to bound back and come back strong [after the losses],? head coach Kris Shanley said. ?We knew exactly what the weekend games meant, but played great softball and maintained the focus we needed to win the games.?
Although invited to compete in the New York State Championship, UR will not participate in any post-season play, despite being selected to round out a group of eight teams from the state to participate in the tournament.
The top seven teams selected carry records with winning percentages above .500, as is traditionally required for selection. UR?s .343 winning percentage falls below the mark, but the team was invited to compete based on its strong play in recent competition. However, UR abides by the .500 rule.
Nonetheless, Shanley recognizes the significance of being invited to the tournament.
?It?s certainly a credit to the team. Everyone worked very hard throughout the entire season to get better and work better as a team. I am thrilled to end the season in such a wonderful way,? Shanley said.
Krivickas was similarly pleased with the team?s season and is already looking forward to building on last year?s success this spring. There were no seniors on last year?s squad, leaving the team the potential to return its entire roster.
?We definitely accomplished our goals this season. I mean, when you start out 1-11 you don?t really have anywhere to go but up, we stepped it up a couple of notches and we got ourselves a championship.? Krivickas said.?Next season is already looking very promising, we have a lot of good recruits coming our way in addition to the strong foundation we already.?