For the second straight season the Seward County Lady Saints have come home from the NJCAA National Tournament in the top 10 in the country. After falling in their opener 4-0 to Seminole State who finished 4th, the Lady Saints beat Pitt CC from North Carolina 5-2 in 8 innings before dropping their final game 8-0 to 7th ranked Chattanooga State to end their season. Seward finishes in 9th place in the country after a 7th place finish in 2009.
Their first game of the tournament was bright and early Thursday morning at the Canyons Complex in St. George, Utah. Their first opponent was the 9 seed for the tournament, the Seminole State Lady Trojans from Seminole, Oklahoma. A good Seminole team to start with, along with a red hot pitcher in Kaci Quintero made it a long day for the gals in green. Seminole had first crack at scoring as the visiting team in the 1st and put together a two out rally with a double and infield single but Erin Roufosse picked up a big strikeout to end the inning and keep the Trojans off the scoreboard in the 1st. Shelby Casey picked up a one out single around a pair of strikeouts but was called out for leaving early while attempting to steal second to retire the Lady Saints in order in their half of the inning. Sam Verska led off the Seminole 2nd inning with a solo home run to center and the Lady Trojans would later take a 2-0 lead on a single from second baseman Adriana Asano to put Seward in a hole. Six straight strikeouts is what was to come for Seward in their halves of the 2nd and 3rd and after 3 innings of play the Lady Saints remained down 2-0. Neither team would score in the 4th inning but Seminole used three consecutive Seward errors on the infield in the 5th to set up a bases loaded, no out situation in the top half of the 5th. Roufosse came up huge by inducing a comebacker double play ball that went down 1-2-3 in the book, followed by a pop up to left to end the threat with the Lady Trojans unable to push a run across. However, it didn’t matter much what Roufosse was doing in the circle for Seward after the Lady Trojans took the 2-0 2nd inning lead as the Lady Saints were simply dominated by the Seminole right hander Quintero. She racked up five consecutive strikeouts in the 5th and 6th innings, coupled with a solo home run from Chelsea Zuchnik in the 6th, made it 3-0 Seminole as the teams entered the last inning of regulation. A leadoff single by Katie Campbell would turn into an insurance run for the Lady Trojans in the 7th to put them up 4-0 and that would be more than enough for Quintero who struck out her 15th and 16th batters of the game in the bottom half of the inning to put the Lady Saints away and push her team onto the next round while Seward fell to the elimination bracket with the 4-0 defeat. Seward was outplayed in every facet of this one as Seminole outhit Seward 10-1 while Seward committed 3 errors to 0 for the Lady Trojans. Casey had the only Seward hit against Quintero who’s final line was 7 innings pitched, 1 hit allowed, no walks, no runs, and 16 strikeouts. Roufosse allowed 3 runs on 8 hits while walking one and striking out 3 and freshman Sydney Cicchetti came in for an inning and 2/3rds at the end for Seward, striking out 3 and allowing 2 hits.
SEMINOLE STATE BOX SCORE
With the loss to Seminole, the Lady Saints were sent to the elimination bracket in the same fashion that they were during their 2009 run. This time the Lady Saints would face off with Pitt CC from Greenville, North Carolina with each of their seasons on the line. Seward hit first and got on the scoreboard right away as Alicia Reyes walked to leadoff the game and coupled with a Bulldog error, would come around to score on an RBI single from Brianna Baron to make it 1-0 Seward after 1. Seward would load the bases with just one out and the meat of their order at the plate but a strikeout and a pop up to the catcher ended the threat and left a zero on the board for the Lady Saints. Pitt also had traffic in the 2nd but Seward starter Erin Roufosse racked up three strikeouts in the inning to avoid the threat and keep the Lady Saints in front 1-0 into the 3rd. Both teams would go quickly in the 3rd and Seward wouldn’t score in their half of the 4th inning so halfway through the score remained 1-0 in favor of the Lady Saints. The Bulldogs would scratch the scoreboard in the bottom half of the 4th with back to back singles to start the inning and a wild pitch to the backstop to score a run and tie the game at 1. Seward would try to answer in the 5th as Shelby Casey and Baron walked in the inning but three strikeouts would leave them stranded and Pitt would take advantage in the bottom of the frame. After a leadoff walk to start the inning and a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over, Pitt nine hole hitter Casey Mitchell then doubled to the left center field fence to drive in the runner from second and put the Bulldogs up 2-1. Seward would have their chance to answer in the 6th as Leah Sitter walked with two outs and Reyes singled behind her but they were again unable to push anything across and after a zero put up by Roufosse the teams went to the 7th inning with Pitt leading 2-1. With their last at bats of their Seward County careers on the line, Baron and Brittany Kent slammed back to back doubles to left field to score a run and tie the game in dramatic fashion. Pitt got their leadoff hitter on in the bottom half of the inning looking for the win but a big strikeout by Roufosse stymied anything more from happening and with the score 2-2 the teams went to the 8th inning for some extra innings action. Being the visiting team on the scoreboard the Lady Saints hit first in the 8th and the inning started how far too many of them had on the day, with two quick outs and after a groundball back to the pitcher Charity Watson, the inning looked to be another of the 1-2-3 variety. However, thankfully for Seward fans, Watson launched the ball over the head of first baseman Amy Godly and the inning was extended for the Lady Saints. That brought Casey to the plate and the Seward sophomore quickly rolled a base hit up the middle to put runners on the corners for team RBI leader Marisa Coats. Although 0 for 7 so far in the tournament, Coats picked a good time to get her first hit of the trip as she laced a single up the middle to score Reyes and moved to second herself on the throw home to put Seward ahead and set up a two on, two out situation for the Lady Saints hottest hitter Brianna Baron. After falling behind in the count, Baron stung a single to center to score Casey from third and create a play at the plate for Coats who was attempting to score from second on the hit. The throw from center fielder Christie Brown beat Coats to the plate but catcher Kristen Garner couldn’t hold onto the throw as Coats slid in safely to put the Lady Saints up 5-2. With all the momentum on their side, the Lady Saints headed out to the field looking to close out the game and the win to move onto the next round. Roufosse quickly picked up a ground ball to retire the first hitter of the inning and then finished the game in style with back to back strikeouts to the joy of Seward fans as the Lady Saints advanced to the round of 12 with the 5-2 win in 8 innings over the Bulldogs. Baron was the savior for Seward in the game, going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored in the win. Coats went just 1 for 5 in the game but picked a good time for her first hit with the 2 RBI single in the 8th to give Seward the 4-2 advantage. Reyes had 2 hits and Casey scored 2 runs at the top of the lineup while Roufosse struck out 7 and allowed just the 2 runs in 8 innings of work in the ballgame.
PITT BOX SCORE
With day one behind them, the Lady Saints looked to turn around their offensive struggles at the Big Dance on day two. Their first opponent on Friday would be the 7th ranked team in the land, the Chattanooga State Lady Tigers. Seward got back to back two out singles from Marisa Coats and Brianna Baron in the 1st but wouldn’t be able to push a run in and the game was scoreless as Chattanooga came to back in the bottom of the inning. Tabitha McNew walked to lead off the Lady Tiger 1st but was only at second with two outs in the inning and Kendall Bruning coming to the plate. After an inauspicious start, the next few minutes resembled the fourth of July as three consecutive singles and a long two run home run by Brittany Cooley shocked the Lady Saints and pushed Chattanooga out to a 5-0 advantage after 1 inning of play. Seward would leave a runner on in both the 2nd and 3rd innings but Erin Roufosse was able to bounce back with a pair of zero’s and keep the game at 5-0 into the 4th. Brittany Kent would single to start the Seward 4th and Amy Schartz would later find a hole up the middle to put two runners on for Seward but they left them stranded and were still without a run after 4. Coats and Baron would pick up their second hits of the game in the top half of the 5th inning as Coats singled to left and Baron smashed a double off the left field fence but a fly ball on the infield would end the Seward inning again with two runners on and after 4 ½ they still trailed 5-0. In the bottom half of the 5th Chattanooga cashed in a pair of hits for a run to go up 6-0 as the teams went to the 6th. Kelsea Blackstock walked to lead off the Seward 6th and Lynda Musick singled behind her to put two on and nobody out as the Lady Saints looked to get back into the game. After a fielder’s choice and a strikeout, Alicia Reyes walked to load the bases for Seward as they had their most serious threat of the contest. Unfortunately, the Lady Saints would continue a trend that they saw far too often in the tournament as they left the bases loaded at the end of the frame after a strikeout and they were still blanked through 6. The Lady Tigers would get a pair of singles in the bottom of the 6th but Seward still looked like they were going to get out of the inning without any damage done as a two out groundball was hit on the infield which looked like it was going to be out number three. The ball was mishandled to score one run and make it 7-0 and two pitches later another error on the infield would lead to Chattanooga’s eighth run of the game to end the game due to the run rule as the Lady Tigers came away with the 8-0 victory. The Lady Saints left 11 runners on in the loss while failing to score for the second time in three games, a feat that happened only four times during the entire 2010 regular season. Coats and Baron combined for 4 of the 8 Seward hits in the game while Roufosse was tagged with the loss, giving up 8 runs, 6 earned in 5 2/3 innings of work while striking out 4 and walking 1.
CHATTANOOGA STATE BOX SCORE
The loss to Chattanooga ends the Seward season at 48-14, the second most wins in a single season in school history. The Lady Saints finish 9th in the country after winning the Jayhawk West Conference regular season title as well as going undefeated in the Region VI Tournament to advance to the National Tournament. Many school records were broken during the 2010 season including their team ERA of 1.40 shatters the previous best mark set in 2009 of 1.82. Individual records broken during the 2010 campaign include Marisa Coats breaking the all-time RBI record with 115 career RBI’s as well as career hits with 158. Brittany Kent broke the school’s all-time triples record of 10 with her 11th career triple in Seward’s win over Garden City in the Region VI Tournament which also tied her for the single season record of 7 in a year. Erin Roufosse had possibly the finest statistical season in school history in the circle, accumulating a school record 1.00 ERA as well as ranking 2nd in wins with 25, strikeouts with 196, and innings pitched at 216 1/3. The 2011 version of the Lady Saints will have big shoes to fill next spring as Seward loses their top 5 hitters and their top pitcher as sophomores this season.