From University of Rochester Athletics
Senior Brittany Grage threw a three-hit shutout and freshmen supplied three RBIs with home runs as the University of Rochester defeated Penn State-Berks in the second game of the Rochester (NY) Regional in the NCAA Division III Softball Championships.
Rochester improved to 28-11 with the victory. Rochester met Moravian in game three on Friday. Regardless of which team won, the same two teams would play again on Saturday to determine who advances to the Super-Regional Round.
It was the second loss of the tournament for Penn State-Berks. The Lions lost, 3-2, to 17th-ranked Moravian College in the first game of the regional. Penn State-Berks finished the season with a record of 19-14.
Grage allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out six. It was her fourth consecutive shutout (vs. St. Lawrence to end the regular season, vs. RPI and Skidmore in the Liberty League playoffs, and then vs. PS-Berks).
Freshman Gabriela Alatorre was 2-3 with one run scored and one RBI – a home run to left field, leading off the second inning. Classmate Julia Liberto clouted a two-run home run to right centerfield in the fourth inning. Rochester scratched out a run in the sixth. Alatorrre singled, but was forced at second by Jocelyn Blackshear. She moved to second on a wild pitch. Liberto flied to deep right, moving her to third. She scored on a double by pinch-hitter Ashley Amidon.
Megan Olsen took the loss for the Nittany Lions. She allowed nine hits in six innings and walked one. It was just her second loss of the season (10-2). Grage improved to 13-4.
PS-Berks produced a serious scoring threat in the third. Rhianna Roulston walked. Mackenzie Huber singled singled to left. After Grage fanned Kaylie Vrabel, Missy Lamm grounded out to Alatorre at first with the runners advancing to second and third. Jenna Heffner hit a grounder to Laurelle Byrne-Cody at second. She tried to slide into first (unsuccessfully) and wound up flipping over the bag. She was down briefly before trotting out to center field.
"We had runners on second and third and I wanted to get on," she said. "So I tried to slide. There was no way I was going to come out of the game."
The Lions threatened again in the seventh. With one out, Julia Moscato doubled down the left field line. Olsen hit a bouncer to the left side. Moscato tried to advance to third, but Rochester shortstop Kayla Kibling threw to Eleni Wechsler for the tag. Roulston negotiated an 11-pitch walk, putting runners at first and second. Grage struck out Huber to end it.
Rochester coach Margaret Yerdon-Grange was pleased with the contributions from all three of her freshman starters – Alatorre at first base, Liberto in left field, Blackshear in right field. They combined for four hits, four runs scored, and three RBIs.
"They did a great job," she said. "They continued to hit the ball. Our game plan was to score early and be aggressive at the plate."
"Freshmen can be big contributors," said PS-Berks head coach Donna Ference. "I have a good number of freshmen and they help a great deal."
For Liberto, the lasting memory was not watching the ball sail over the right centerfield fence. It was what she saw as she rounded third. "All my teammates at home plate waiting for me," she said. "Everyone wanted to celebrate because we had a bigger lead."