BUFFALO, N.Y. (Canisius College Media Release) – The Iona College softball team scored three times in the top of the third and added a run in the sixth, while sophomore pitcher Sarah Jackson gave up just one run on four hits as the second-seeded Gaels defeated Canisius College 4-1 in the MAAC Softball Championship game Saturday afternoon at the Demske Sports Complex. The win gives Iona its third MAAC Softball Championship, and its first since 1985, and improves the team to 28-24 on the year, while the Golden Griffins see their season end at 34-19.
By winning the MAAC’s softball crown, Iona has secured one of the 64 spots in next weekend’s NCAA Division I Softball Tournament. The Gaels’ opponents and regional placement will be announced live on ESPNU Sunday night at 10 p.m.
After two scoreless innings, Iona put the first marker on the scoreboard in the top half of the third on an RBI-single to left by Eileen McCann. With runners at first and second and two outs, McCann took Canisius starter Amanda Baun’s 1-2 offering into left field. Canisius left fielder Lauren Hope fielded the ball and came up firing to the plate, but Chelsea Sheehan was able to get over the tag at the plate for a 1-0 lead. Iona’s Allyssa James followed McCann’s single with a base knock of her own that drove Marisa Newman and Sheehan across the dish to give the Gaels the 3-0 cushion.
The Griffs answered with a run in the fourth to make the game 3-1. Senior Michelle Fridey (Williamsville, N.Y.) led off the frame with a base hit to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by teammate Katie Lancellotti (Clarence, N.Y.). After junior Emily Helbig singled back up the middle to move Fridey to third, sophomore Lizzy Gatto knocked in the Blue and Gold’s only run with a sacrifice fly to left. From there, Jackson took over in the circle for the Gaels, as she gave up just one hit through the game’s next three innings with only one Canisius base runner reaching second base.
Iona’s fourth run came in the top of the sixth when Sheehan drew a two-out, bases load walk. For the game, Sheehan went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, while McCann finished the championship game by going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Iona tallied seven hits off Baun, who took the loss after she allowed four runs on seven hits while fanning 11 and walking four, with all four of those free passes coming in the top of the sixth. Jackson struck out five in the win for Iona, as she was named the MAAC Softball Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player with her 3-0 record on the weekend.
For Canisius, Helbig had two hits in the losing effort, while Fridey and sophomore Lauren Falzone (Williamsville, N.Y.) each added a base knock. Fridey ended her senior season with a team-high .395 batting average to go with 64 hits, 18 doubles, four triples, five homers and a school-record 52 runs batted in.
“Michelle has been a great leader for us and we will definitely miss her,” Canisius head coach Mike Rappl said. “Being the only senior, she took on the burden of a lot of leadership and she still played great. Not many people can take on both roles. We were happy with her production and she will be missed.”
Canisius wrapped up the 2010 campaign with 34 wins, and a 13-3 MAAC record, which gave the Blue and Gold a share of the 2010 MAAC regular-season championship, the 13th in program history. Canisius qualifed for the MAAC Softball Championship for the 20th time in 21 years and made its 17th appearance in the MAAC Softball Championship game.
“We had a good season,” Rappl said. “I’m very proud of the girls. They had 34 wins and a share of the league title. With such a young team and ten underclassmen coming back, we have a lot to strive for next year.”
Game Notes: Fridey, Helbig, Hope and sophomore pitcher Caroline Main were all named to the MAAC All-Tournament Team… The win for Iona over the Griffs is just the Gaels’ second all-time victory at the Demske Sports Complex, with both of those victories coming within a span of 25 hours… Canisius still leads the all-time series with Iona by a 34-8 count… This marks the first time Canisius has lost in a championship game since 1999 when the team lost to Manhattan by a score of 2-1… Iona was making its fifth all-time MAAC Softball Championship game appearance and first since losing to Canisius in 2005… Fridey ends her career with a seven-game MAAC Tournament hitting streak and her 113 career RBIs ranks third in school history… Helbig hit .583 (7-for-12) with a double and two RBIs in the Griffs’ four postseason games… Baun’s 11 strikeouts on Saturday marks the sixth time this season she struck out double-digit batters in a game… Her 187 strikeouts this season set a new Canisius record for strikeouts in a year by a freshman pitcher… As a team, Canisius hit .300 on the year and outscored its opponents 269-153.