AMHERST, Mass. – After winning the day’s opening game, 3-0, to force a second and decisive game, No. 21 UMass slugged three home runs to lead the topseeded Minutewomen to an 8-3 victory over No. 2 seed Fordham to win their 22nd Atlantic 10 Championship. For the sixth year in a row, UMass will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced on Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Minutewomen blasted their way through the tournament setting an A-10 Championship record with 12 round-trippers, led by tournament MVP Sarah Reeves. The senior co-captain was 8-for-15, driving in a tournament record 10 runs and slugging a remarkable 1.600 percent. Six of her eight hits went for extra bases as she had a double and a tournament record five home runs in four games played.
Plourde finished the weekend with a 2.62 ERA, pitching in all five games and earning a tournament record four wins, including two shutouts. Her 44 strikeouts combined with six strikeouts by Bailey Sanders mark yet another new Atlantic 10 Championship record for strikeouts by a team.
Reeves got the Minutewomen on the board first with a bomb to deep center that not only cleared the outfield wall but also the 12-foot fence that surrounds the ballpark and into the parking lot. The home run marked many milestones for Reeves as it was her fifth of the tournament and her 10th RBI in championship play. The senior’s home run also broke the team record for home runs in a tournament with nine and puts her into second place on the UMass career list with 33, passing Samantha Salato.
The blasts continued for UMass in the second inning. Michelle Libby lead off with a home run of her own to centerfield, the 10th of the year for the senior. Two batters later, Megan Carta left the park on her 13th home run of the year giving UMass the 3-0 lead and their 11th round-tripper of the tournament.
Fordham got one back in the top of the fourth when Erin Fisher left the park with her 15th home run in 2010 breaking the Fordham single season records in homers and career RBIs (146) as the Rams got on the board for the first time on the day.
UMass put up a five-spot in the fourth inning to solidify the victory. Carta doubled to dead center that hit the 220 sign to drive home pinch-runner Christine Della Vecchia. One batter later, Whitney Williams earned her third sacrifice fly of the season, scoring pinch-runner Jordan Storro, whose slide evaded the tag of the catcher.
Normandin blazed a hit through the left side that rolled all the way to the wall for a triple, clearing the bases and giving her the cycle for the weekend. She came across the plate one batter later as Magill notched her second home run of the tournament to give the Minutewomen a 8-1 lead heading into the fifth inning.
Fisher’s bat continued to produce in the sixth inning as she notched her second homer of the game, a two-run shot that cut the UMass lead to 8-3.
With one runner on in the seventh, Normandin made the defensive play of the game, making a diving catch on a drive to the left center gap off the bat of Jocelyn Dearborn with a runner aboard. Plourde sat down the next two batters as the Minutewomen repeated as Atlantic 10 Champions for the sixth straight season.
The game marks the first time since 2002 in Kingstown, R.I. when the Minutewomen have come out of the loser’s bracket to win the tournament. The Minutewomen fell to the Rams on Friday, 7-5, before defeating Charlotte, 9-4, to make the finals.