The Iona Gaels defeated defending champion Canisus 4-1 Saturday at the Demske Sports Complex in Buffalo, NY to win the championship of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA National Tournament.
Sophomore Sarah Jackson scattered 4 hits and allowed only a single run in earning her 18th win of the season and leading the Gaels to their first MAAC title in 25 years. Iona scored all the runs they would need when in the third inning they scored three runs after two outs were recorded. Chelsea Sheehan opened the inning with a bunt single, and was immediately sacrificed to second base by Tessa Earley. After Marisa Newman was hit by a pitch and Jodi Petersen lined out, Eileen McCann singled home the first run, and reached second base on the throw to home that failed to get Chelsea Sheehan. Allyssa James then singled home two runs, providing the Gaels with the winning margin. Canisius would cut the Gaels' lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning when Lizzy Gatto hit a sacrifice fly that scored Michelle Fridey, but Iona got that run back in the sixth inning when Canisius starter Amanda Baun walked Chelsea Sheehan with the bases loaded.
Sarah Jackson retired the final six Canisius batters, and the Iona team ran to the backstop where their family and fans were sitting and erupted in celebration.
Sarah Jackson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Iona raised their record to 28-24, and now await word from the NCAA on where and whom they will next play. This will be announced Sunday night.
Canisius ends their season with a record of 34-19.