The Marist Red Foxes won the MAAC Championship with a 4-1 win over the Fairfield Stags Saturday in Poughkeepsie, NY.
The Red Foxes ended the reign of the Iona Gaels with a convincing tournament sweep this weekend. They never trailed in the Championship game, but did get into some hot water in the top of the first inning when Fairfield loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit. But with no outs, left fielder Christina Lausch set the tone for the day when, after catching a fly ball in deep left field for an out, she completed the double play by gunning down the speedy Kristen Filicia at home plate. It was a huge play, and allowed Marist to get out of the inning with the game still scoreless. It remained so until the bottom of the third inning when freshman Nicole Cheek took a Rae Ball pitch and sent it sailing over the center field fence for a 3-0 Red Foxes' lead. The home run, which tied Nicole for the school single season record (her 15th such hit), scored, besides herself, Taylor Kuzma, pinch running for Sarah Carmody who had singled, and Maureen Duddy, who also had singled.
Marist starter Emily Osterhaus did not allow a Fairfield hit until the top of the fifth inning when the Stags would get three. Fairfield narrowed the Marist lead to 3-1 when Kristen Filicia singled home Bri Levick. Then a two out infield single by Sammy Ruffolo put two runners on for the Stags, and brought Lauren Liseth to the plate with a chance to tie the game, or give Fairfield the lead. But Emily Osterhaus induced a ground out from the MAAC's Player Of The Year, and the threat was extinguished. Marist got that run back in the bottom of the same inning when Dani Koltz sent a towering blast over the center field fence. Emily Osterhaus, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, retired the next six Stags she faced and set off a wild celebration - the Red Foxes were again MAAC Champs after a seven year wait!
Emily Osterhaus outpitched the MAAC Pitcher Of The Year, and the conference's statistical leader this weekend, beating them both. She was brilliant in her control, at one point pitching 17 consecutive shutout innings. She allowed only two runs in her three complete game wins. She was 4-0 against the preseason favorite Stags this season.
For Fairfield, it was another hard luck loss for their talented Class of '14. The Stags have now lost five consecutive Championship games in a three year period. Yet, they will return virtually the same team, with some newcomers, next season to make another challenge. Tiffany Lawson, Macy Cutshaw and Emily Orr wore the Fairfield uniform for the final time.
The Red Foxes will celebrate tonight, and then settle in somewhere on the Marist campus Sunday night to see where they will be playing next week in the NCAA National Tournament, and against whom. At the moment, I'm guessing they don't really care!
Thanks to Paige Lewis' dad for the photo!