ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - Via a split in two games on Saturday, the Case Western Reserve University softball team earned a share of the 2014 University Athletic Association Championship. The title is the program's fourth overall and first since 1999.
The Spartans (10-6, 5-3 UAA) defeated the University of Rochester (N.Y.), 4-1, during the morning session. That coupled with an Emory University (Ga.) loss to Brandeis University (Mass.) guaranteed CWRU at least a share of the championship.
In the afternoon, No. 9 nationally ranked Emory then bounced back to defeat the Spartans, 5-4 on a walk-off single in extra innings. No. 17 Washington University in St. Louis (12-3, 5-3 UAA) also won its final game to create to a three-way split of the UAA Championship.
The program's previous three UAA Championships came in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The team hadn't finished better than second since 2002.
Versus Rochester (5-6, 2-5 UAA), freshman Annie Wennerberg (Avon Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake) improved to 6-0 on the mound with her third complete game of the season. In seven innings, the rookie hurler allowed one earned run on seven hits.
In support of Wennerberg, the Spartans built a 3-1 advantage after three innings as junior first baseman Rebecca Taylor (Greensburg, Pa./Greater Latrobe), sophomore centerfielder Rachel Komar (Chesterland, Ohio/West Geauga) and junior outfielder Ashley Parello (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) each provided RBI singles. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the freshman pitcher aided her own cause with her first collegiate homer - a solo shot to left.
For the game, senior shortstop Makenzie Lein (Petersburg, Mich./Ida) was 2-for-2 with a walk and a run, while Wennerberg and junior designated player Gena Roberts (Miami, Fla./Palmer-Trinity) each finished 2-for-3.
Brittany Grage (2-4) took the loss for Rochester in three innings pitched. Offensively, Taylor Fravel went 2-for-3 with a run.
Against Emory (25-3, 5-3 UAA), the Spartans got on the board in the top of the first when Parello singled home senior catcher Amy Taylor (Brier, Wash./Inglemoor), who reached via a double. The Eagles then knotted the score in the bottom half thanks to a solo homer by Tara Fallahee and grabbed a 3-1 edge with a Moira Sullivan homer followed by a Lauren Gorodetsky RBI double in the second.
After another Emory run in the third, two scoreless frames followed before the Spartans rallied to tie the score at 4-4 in the sixth. Parello drove in one with another single, and Roberts concluded the rally with a clutch two-out, two-run single.
Both sides went scoreless in their next at-bats, but Emory looked to be headed for a walk-off win with two on in the seventh. On in relief, Rebecca Taylor was able to induce a foul out and a line out to strand two runners in scoring position.
However, Emory's eighth inning began with a hit by pitch and a double. One batter later, Ally Kersthold stepped to the plate and hit the game-winning single.
Rebecca Taylor (2-5) wound up throwing three innings in relief with just the one earned run allowed.
At the plate, Roberts was 3-for-5 with two walks and two RBI. Amy Taylor also finished 3-for-5.
In two separate stints, Amanda Kardys (16-1) pitched 4.2 innings in the win for Emory.
The Spartans now return north and will be back in action with a doubleheader at Geneva College (Pa.) on Saturday, March 22 at 1:00 p.m. The team opens the home portion of the schedule the following day versus No. 16 Trine University (Ind.) at 2:00 p.m. at Mather Park.