Courtesy of UofRAthletics.com
ERIE, PA – The University of Rochester raised its record to 3-0 in the NCAA Regional Softball Championships by posting a 7-3 victory over St. John Fisher College late on Saturday afternoon at Penn State Behrend College. The victory means the Yellowjackets need one victory on Sunday to claim a spot in the NCAA Championship round next weekend.
Rochester’s victory boosts its record to 34-8 overall. The 34 wins are a single-season record, surpassing the total of 33 wins claimed by the 2009 team. The Yellowjackets are ranked #14 in the latest Division III poll conducted by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
St. John Fisher, ranked #16 in the same poll, is 30-6. The Cardinals will play at 10 a.m. on Sunday against sixth-seeded York College (PA) in an elimination game. The winner between Fisher and York will play Rochester at 12 p.m. to determine which team advances to the NCAA Championships in Salem, VA. The Fisher/York survivor needs to win twice against UR to claim the finals berth.
York College defeated second-seeded SUNY Geneseo, 2-0, immediately after Rochester defeated the Knights, 5-2, early Saturday afternoon. The two losses knocked out Geneseo. York eliminated Stevens Institute of Technology on Friday afternoon. Fisher won its first game on Saturday, a 1-0 victory over host Penn State Behrend. That Fisher win eliminated the Lions (who lost to UR, 6-1, on Friday).
Headed into this regional, three Rochester area teams claimed the top three seeds: 1. St. John Fisher, 2. SUNY Geneseo, 3. Rochester, 4. Penn State Behrend, 5. Stevens Institute of Technology, 6. York (PA) College. This is one of eight regionals around the nation that will determine the Elite 8 to convene in Virginia in less than seven days.
Emily Sharlach earned the victory in the circle for Rochester against SJFC. She relieved Hannah Leahy with two outs, one run in, and two aboard in the third inning. Leahy gave up a run in the second inning. Allison Rogowski doubled home Rachel Evans who walked. A throwing error moved Rogowski to third, but Leahy produced a groundout to end the inning. In the third, she quickly retired Emily Trotman and Maria Marcera.
Sammie Torlish doubled to left. Megan Kreger singled to left moving Torlish to third. When a relay throw got away, Torlish scored to make it 4-2 Rochester. Allie Klonowski doubled to left. Kreger took third and Sharlach came in. She fanned Evans to end the third.
Over 4.1 innings, Sharlach allowed four hits, one unearned run, and struck out one. The victory was her first in this regional after saving wins over Penn State Behrend on Friday and Geneseo in a noon game on Saturday. She is 12-3 overall. She retired nine of 10 hitters into the sixth inning. A leadoff single by Trotman was the only blemish until a brief Fisher uprising in the sixth.
With two down (and Rochester ahead, 7-2), Abby Flackus singled to left. Rogowski doubled to center. Flackus roared around third, but a strong relay from Toni Anne Hahn to catcher Hunter Gilbreath set up a play at the plate, Gilbreath tagged Flackus, but the umpire ruled that she obstructed the runner’s path (scored as an error) and the run was awarded. Sharlach earned a groundout to end the inning. In the seventh, Marcera singled with one out. Marissa Russo caught two fly balls in right – the second one was a nice running catch in short right center. That ended the game.
Rochester scored four runs in the third to go ahead for good. Singles by Alexis Klee and Russo plus a sacrifice by Jen Carson brought Hannah Keiper to the plate. She drove a 2-1 pitch well over the left field fence for a three-run home run and 3-1 lead. Hahn followed with a walk. Allison Beckwith doubled her to third and she scored on a sac fly by Alexis Pope.
In the sixth, Keiper walked and Erin Bevec came on to run. She was bunted to second by Hahn. Beckwith’s grounder to the left side was booted, moving Bevec to third. Beckwith stole second (her second steal of the game) and Pope doubled to right, scoring two runs. A wild pitch moved her to third and when Fisher tried to throw her out at third, the throw sailed down the left field line scoring the final UR run.