This past weekend, RPI women’s softball hosted the Liberty League conference tournament. The tournament followed a round-robin, double elimination format in which teams would continue to compete until three teams all had two losses and the fourth team became champion.
RPI faced fourth-seeded Skidmore College on Friday in its opening contest. Junior Kristina Weltzin pitched a complete game, three-hit, shutout as the Engineers dominated with a 6-0 win. Sophomore catcher Taylor Ten Eyck doubled in sophomore second basemen Danielle Balestrini and senior shortstop Tori Hunt in the first. Then, sophomore right fielder Morgan Ten Eyck followed with a double of her own to give RPI a 3-0 lead after one inning.
Later, in the fourth inning, freshman first baseman Courtney McArthur crushed the pitch over the left field wall for her third home run of the season to give the Engineers a four run edge. Then, in the sixth inning, she followed with a second home run, this time over the center field wall, to give RPI the six run lead it closed the game with.
RPI’s second game came against the third-seeded Union College Dutchmen, who were fresh off a comeback win over the second-seeded University of Rochester the previous afternoon. Union continued its momentum into the second game of the tournament, taking a 4-1 lead into RPI’s half of the sixth inning. But, RPI had slowly been getting comfortable against Union starting pitcher Alyssa Wolejko. After Hunt singled to left and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, junior third baseman Jena Servidone doubled to right to make the score Union 4, RPI 2. Then, with one out in the inning, M. Ten Eyck fouled off a number of good pitched before lining a single to left field and driving in Servidone.
In the top of the seventh, three Union singles resulted in a run that gave the Dutchmen a two-run cushion heading into the final half inning. To start the inning, senior pinch hitter Dani Grage grounded to second but Union’s Lindsay Cohen was unable to handle it and Grage reached on the error. Then, after junior center fielder Kathleen Baker pinch ran for Grage, freshman outfielder Morgan Kollmeier grounded to Wolejko, but a second error allowed Baker to advance to second and Kollmeier to reach first safely. Wolejko was on the brink of losing her composure, and all she needed was just one more pressurized play to push her over the edge. Balestrini knew what to do: she bunted. Wolejko scrambled to get the ball as Balestrini raced down the first base line. Without locking in on her target, Union’s ace picked up the ball and fired toward first, but the throw was off line and rolled well into foul territory. Before Union could get the ball back to her, RPI’s Baker had scored and the tying runner, Kollmeier, was standing on third base with no one out. Then, with Wolejko making sure to throw strikes in hopes of holding the lead, Servidone sent a high pop-up over the head of Union first baseman Kristin Schmidt, who ran back and caught the ball. RPI’s three base runners tried to tag-up and score but Kollmeier was thrown out at home to bring Union within one out of a zany 5-4 win. But, as she has all season, T. Ten Eyck delivered in the big moment. On a 2-1 pitch, T. Ten Eyck connected solidly and smashed the ball into the left centerfield gap, driving in the tying and winning runs to give RPI an exciting 6-5 walk-off win over rival Union College.
The next day, 2-0 RPI faced 1-1 University of Rochester for the title but struggled in both contests it played. In the first game the Engineers were unable to manage a base runner as Rochester’s Brittany Grage fired a five inning perfect game to lift the Yellowjackets over the Engineers by a score of 8-0. Then, in the second game, Rochester’s Eleni Wechsler pitched nearly as well, surrendering just three hits and giving up zero runs. The final score of the second game was the same as the first, 8-0. Not much went right for RPI on Sunday as none of the pitchers could find a rhythm against the hot bats of Rochester and the Engineers went a combined one-for-five with runners in scoring position.
Following the tournament, the Liberty League announced its awards. Six players from RPI were recognized. Three players, Weltzin, M. Ten Eyck, and Hunt were all named first Team Liberty League. Two players, Balestrini and Kollmeier, were named second team, and T. Ten Eyck rounded out the accolades, receiving honorable mention. Despite, its loss in the final game of the season, RPI softball had a great season, winning the regular season title in the Liberty League and finishing with a 24-18 record overall.