LAKEWOOD, N.J. – The Philadelphia University softball team became the first number seven seed to reach the final of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Tournament after surviving three elimination contests on the second day of action Saturday afternoon at Georgian Court University.
Behind timing hitting and tremendous pitching, the Rams opened the day by shutting out Goldey-Beacom 3-0, then eliminated Holy Family 2-1, and completed the trifecta with a 6-1 triumph against Dominican (N.Y.). It is the fourth time in the last five years that a time won three straight games to advance to the final day.
Philadelphia (25-27) will face top seed Caldwell University on the last day of tournament action on Sunday, May 7 at noon on GCU Softball Field #1. The Rams must defeat the Cougars twice to win their first CACC championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
In the opening contest of the day, Naomi Stas threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out three batters to earn the win in the pitching circle. Stas allowed only one Lightning player to reach third base. In the fifth inning, Kylie Doyle walked and went to third after a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt. Stas quickly ended the threat with a groundout to first, a strike out, and a ground to shortstop in succession.
Gianna Bliss broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning with her first home run since March 19, 2014—a two-run blast—to straightaway center field to give the Rams a 2-0 lead. Katelyn Stys tacked on an insurance run with a seventh-inning single to score Courtney Wensel.
Philadelphia's offense spotted Stephanie Pepper a pair of runs before she had to throw a pitch against Holy Family. With one out and Rams on first and third in the top of the first inning, Jovanna Alfonsi hit a ball back to Holy Family pitcher Koreen Orozco. Orozco threw wide of first, allowing Stas to come home for the first run of the game. Bliss doubled the lead with a single to left field that brought Monica Levins home from third.
Once Pepper got in the circle, she was nearly lights out in her second shot at the Tiger lineup in this year's CACC Tournament. Pepper—who lost to Holy Family in the opening game of the tournament—fanned six hitters, while allowing an unearned run on five hits in seven innings.
Holy Family (28-20) scored its only run of the game when the Rams misplayed a Bailey Walters sacrifice bunt to send Rachel Zeides home from second base.
Stas had two hits for the Rams, while Taylor Favinger went 3-for-3.
It was Philadelphia's first win against Holy Family in four attempts this season.
Against Dominican, Philadelphia got two hits a piece from Stas, Bliss, and Alfonsi and they outhit the Chargers 9-2.
The Rams broke the game wide open with four runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to move ahead 6-0.
Philadelphia put together a one-out rally in the fourth as the Rams strung together three straight RBI hits. Pepper gave Philadelphia the lead with a single to left field, Wensel pushed the gap to three with a two-run double, and Breck Urban completed the rally with a RBI double.
In the fifth inning, Bliss delivered a one-out double for the fifth run and Megan Letos made it 6-0 as she came home from third on a wild pitch.
Dominican (29-22) broke up the shutout on a RBI groundout off the bat of Jillian Regan in the final inning.
The Rams gave the ball back to Stas and she gave them four strikeouts in seven innings of work. She faced just three batters over the minimum in the victory.