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UAlbany Wins Third Consecutive America East Conference Softball Championship

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 08:42 AM

UAlbany Wins Third Consecutive America East Conference Softball Championship
Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information
Release: 05/12/2007

Courtesy: UAlbany Athletics

Boston, Mass. – Sophomore shortstop Meagan Butsch singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to lead UAlbany to a 6-4 victory over UMBC in the America East Conference championship game on Saturday, May 12 at BU Softball Field. The Great Danes, who earned an automatic NCAA Tournament berth, became just the second program in conference history to capture three consecutive league crowns.

UMBC (32-18) took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth after UAlbany pitcher Casey Halloran (Columbia) walked the bases loaded with one out. The Retrievers’ Krissy Licursi then lined a ground ball to infielder Kelly Ogden who stepped on third base to get a force out. However, Ogden threw wide to home plate attempting to get lead-runner Kali Shirk. Ashley Gray then came around to score from first base with the second run of the inning when UAlbany catcher Kat Smith committed another error while trying to gun her down at third as she advanced on Odgen’s miscue.

UAlbany (33-15) went back ahead in the bottom of the frame. Amber Maisonet and Michelle Connors (Shenendehowa) each walked and were aboard with two outs. Ogden, a senior third baseman, then singled on a 1-2 pitch the other way to right field to tie the contest. Butsch followed with a single through the hole on the left side to drive Connors across for a 5-4 advantage.

The Great Danes added an insurance run in the sixth. Laura Gremillion walked and was then lifted for pinch-runner Shane Pais, who moved up to second base on a groundout. Maisonet, who went 3-for-3 at the plate, then smacked a RBI single to right field. Halloran, who was in and out of trouble throughout the game, retired the first two batters she faced in the seventh, but then Gray singled and Licursi was hit by a pitch. However, Halloran came back to strike out Carla O’Rourke swinging on a 3-2 count to end the contest.

“I made a mental error on that fielding play,” offered Ogden, whose team reached the conference championship final for the fourth time in the last five years. “But I knew my experience would get me through it. She had been throwing outside to me (with her pitches) and I was able to take it to right field. I was focused and it was a great feeling to pick up my teammates.”

The Retrievers, who got to the championship game for the first time when they rallied for a 3-2 win over Hartford earlier in the day on Licursi’s walk-off homer, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first. First baseman Amanda Fefel belted her 13th home run of the season, a two-run blast with two outs, over the left-field fence. UAlbany rallied in the bottom of the inning when Butsch, who had four RBI, drilled a three-run homer to dead center, her seventh of the year.

“We answered back all day,” said UAlbany coach Chris Cannata, whose team was seeded fourth and narrowly made the championship field on the last weekend of the regular season. “They were coming off an emotional high from winning that early game and we knew we had to keep it close. Casey (Halloran) didn’t have great stuff, but UMBC has great hitters and she got them out when she needed. It was so hard to win that second championship last year, but this is very satisfying.”

Halloran, the championship’s most outstanding player with two tournament wins, improved to 18-9 by fanning 10 and walking six. She recorded double-figure strikeouts for the fifth time this season. UMBC’s Gray fell to 13-9 overall. The right-hander struck out three and walked three, plus went 2-for-3 at the plate. UAlbany’s Leah McIntosh, Ogden, Maisonet and Butsch joined Halloran on the all-championship squad. The NCAA field will be announced on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.


America East Conference Softball Championship

UMBC (32-18) 200 020 0 - 4 7 0

UAlbany (33-15) 300 021 x - 6 9 2

Ashley Gray and Krissy Licursi. Casey Halloran and Kat Smith.

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