POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The Marist softball team defeated Fairfield 4-1 on Saturday afternoon to win the 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Softball Championship. It is the second MAAC Championship in the program’s history after the 2006 Red Foxes earned the first-ever title.
In a storyline that unfolded for the Red Foxes throughout the tournament, strong pitching and timely hitting was a deciding factor on Saturday. Led by senior pitcher Emily Osterhaus (Suwanee. Ga.) and home runs by freshman Nicole Cheek (Simi Valley, Calif.) and senior Danielle Koltz (Chenango Bridge, N.Y.) Marist earned the exciting victory in front of its home fans at the Softball Park at Gartland Field.
Osterhaus, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, immediately proved her veteran guile with a bases loaded no-out situation in the top of the first inning. The captain and her strong defense would navigate through the 4-5-6 portion of the Stags’ lineup with successive outs highlighted by a double play off of a fly out to left field and a put out at the plate from Christina Lausch's throw home; a fly out to center field ended the threat.
After that rocky first inning, Osterhaus would settle in and cruise without allowing a hit until the fifth inning.
With the Stags held in check, the Red Foxes would break through with the game’s first runs with a trio of runs in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Sarah Carmody (Camarillo, Calif.) led the offense with an infield single deep to the hole between the shortstop and third baseman. Freshman Maureen Duddy (San Mateo, Calif.) followed up her fellow Californian with another infield single as she dropped a perfectly placed bunt in between the pitcher, catcher and third baseman. After Fairfield retired Koltz for the first out of the inning, Cheek, the 2013 MAAC Rookie of the Year, connected with a Rae Ball offering and launched a home run deep over the center field wall for the 3-0 lead. This home run was Cheek’s 15th of the year, a total that tied her for Marist’s single-season top mark.
Fairfield finally got to Osterhaus in the fifth inning with its first hit and first run of the contest with three singles highlighted by Kristen Filicia’s RBI base hit to left field. Osterhaus and the Red Foxes skirted further damage as Lauren Liseth, the 2013 MAAC Player of the Year, was retired with a ground out to shortstop on the ninth pitch of her at bat.
With the score 3-1, Marist immediately responded in the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch home run by Koltz out over the right-center field fence.
Afforded a three-run lead, Osterhaus put the Red Foxes on her back over the final two innings with three ground outs, a pair of strikeouts and a fly out. Her second strikeout came for out Number 21, the final of the game, as she retired Brianna Levick with a swing and a miss for strike three.
With the ball securely in Alyssa Zahka’s (Lexington, Mass.) catcher’s mitt, the Red Foxes exploded out of the dugout to sprint towards the circle where all 17 of Marist’s players embraced, jumped for joy and celebrated the team’s year-long goal of becoming the 2013 MAAC Champions.
After the contest, Koltz, Duddy and Aly Klemmer (Hamilton, N.J.) were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Osterhaus was named to the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She went 3-0 in the tournament with 14 strikeouts while only giving up nine hits and two earned runs for a 0.67 ERA.