Softball narrowly misses conference crown

RPI took the longer road to the title game and fought against the University of Rochester to the final game of the double elimination tournament, but in the end they were not able to come away with the win on Saturday.

The first opponent was St. Lawrence University and the game started well for the Engineers. They got on the board in the first inning as senior Sara Heller and freshman Jocilyn Rudisill scored unearned runs after two errors by St. Lawrence. Then in the fourth with the bases loaded, senior Kelly Erkert walked to score junior Aimee Konet and Rudisill’s single scored sophomore Danielle Grage. RPI was in control with a 4-0 and freshman Kristina Weltzin was putting in a solid performance while keeping it that way. The only blemish came in the fifth when the opponents put three across to make the score 4-3. However, the Engineers held onto their lead and advanced to the next round.

The University of Rochester was the Engineer’s next opponent in the winner’s bracket. Whoever won this game was into the championship game. Unfortunately for RPI, they fell behind early. In the third, Rochester scored four and RPI could only responded with two runs. Despite the Engineers scoring a run in the fifth, Rochester added two more in the sixth to make it 6-3.

Then in the final inning, the Engineers made their move towards a comeback. Konet’s two run single brought RPI within one run of tying the game while they still had all three outs remaining. However, those three outs came quickly courtesy of two strikeouts and a ground out. RPI took the 6-5 loss in stride and headed to the loser’s bracket with another chance at participating in the finale.

The opponent was once again St. Lawrence who were clearly looking to avenge their first round defeat at the hands of the Engineers. In the first inning, junior Gillian McCarthy scored on a single, giving RPI the lead. After St. Lawrence tied it in the second, the Engineers responded in the third when a sophomore Tori Hunt double scored Heller. RPI appeared to be in control.

However that all changed in the fifth when St. Lawrence put two quick runs up on the board, taking the 3-2 lead. The Engineers struggled to get on base to have a chance at the comeback, and put the game into extra innings. Fortunately, they wouldn’t need that as McCarthy hit a two run double with the last play of the game, batting in Heller and Rudisill and giving RPI the 4-3 walk off victory and a chance at the championship.

Now it was the Engineers’ turn to look to avenge their previous defeat at the hands of Rochester. However, Rochester had not yet been beaten in the tournament. This meant that it would require two wins for the Engineers to be champions while it only took one loss for them to leave without it.

Very few runs were scored in the first game as both pitchers performed admirably. In particular, RPI’s Weltzin—who pitched every inning of the tournament for the Engineers—was excellent, allowing only one, unearned, run and three hits during eight innings of work. RPI opened the scoring in the fourth when McCarthy’s single scored Rudisill. Unfortunately, Rochester scored in the seventh to send the game into extra innings. However, Heller led off for the Engineers in the bottom of the eighth and ended the game with one swing of the bat. Her walk-off home run gave RPI back to back walk off victories and the 2-1 win put them within one game of being champions.

Regrettably, the final game did not go RPI’s way and seemed destined not to from the start. Rochester scored six runs in the first two innings including four runs in the second. They then added two more in the fifth on their way to a five inning blowout of the Engineers while becoming Liberty League Champions.

The Engineers finished the regular season on top of the Liberty League and will have to be proud of that. Next year RPI will look to improve their 27-14 overall record as well as their 9-1 Liberty League record. Of course, above all, they will look to once again host the Liberty League Tournament but finishing as champions in front of their own fans.

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