W&J wins PAC softball title
CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – Washington & Jefferson College, sparked by timely two-out hitting and solid pitching, won three consecutive games Friday and won the school’s third Presidents’ Athletic Conference women’s softball championship.
The Presidents (25-10) advance to the NCAA Division III tournament that begins next week. W&J will learn its first-round opponent and regional site when the brackets are released Monday morning on ncaa.com.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Nicole Vitello, who is in her seventh season at W&J and is the program’s all-time coaching wins leader with 129. “Everyone has worked so hard to get here and I’m very proud of the way they’ve played all season.”
W&J fought off elimination in all three games. The Presidents started the day with one loss in the double-elimination tournament and advanced to the championship round by defeating host and No. 1 seed Thomas More, 1-0. The third-seeded Presidents then defeated No. 2 Geneva, 1-0, to force an “if necessary game.”
The Presidents overcame an early deficit in the title game and held on for a 6-3 victory.
W&J’s other conference titles were in 1996 and 2006.
In the finale, W&J scored five runs in the top of the third inning to take a 5-1 lead. The Presidents then limited the Golden Tornadoes to just a pair of runs over the final five innings.
Winning pitcher Krista McCartney threw four innings and Emily Watson pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings to register a save.
Watson was 2-for-4 at the plate and scored a run. Madison Rotto’s two-out, two-run single capped the Presidents’ five-run inning. Courtney Roperti had two hits and an RBI.
W&J started the day with Kelsey Cunningham’s double driving in Breanna Gleason in the top of the seventh inning to eliminate Thomas More. Krista McCartney pitched a three-hit shutout.
In the first game against Geneva, McCartney threw her second consecutive shutout, tossing a four-hitter to deal the Golden Torandoes their first loss in the tournament. McCartney, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, struck out three and did not walk a batter.
The Presidents scored the game’s only run in the top of the first inning. Cunningham led off with a single, advanced to second base on a ground and came around to score on a single by Watson.
W&J is the first No. 3 seed to win the PAC tournament since Bethany accomplished the feat in 2008.