Softball Finishes Season as National Runner-Up
The nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College softball team had its record-setting season come to an end on Monday as the No. 8 Cardinals fell to top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship series. Fisher, which set a program record this season with 44 wins, finished its 2017 campaign at 44-8. The Marlins won their first-ever Division III softball title and closed out their season on top with a 54-3 mark.
Fisher, which made its second consecutive appearance in the Division III Softball Championship, had a season for the ages. The Cardinals claimed their fifth overall Empire 8 Championship and went on to win both a Regional and Super Regional Championship in NCAA play.
In all, 10 players were honored by the Empire 8 Conference this season including Katie Mazierski and Lindsey Thayer, who were named Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. Additionally, the duo was honored by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as Thayer was tabbed First-Team All-American. Mazierski was honored as a Second-Team All-American selection.
VIRGINIA WESLEYAN 5, FISHER 0
Neither team was able to generate much offense through the first two innings, but the Marlins struck first with a run in the top of third on two hits. After a one-out infield single, Virginia Wesleyan's cleanup hitter came away with an RBI double after a 13-pitch battle with Fisher pitcher Lindsey Thayer. As the inning continued, Virginia Wesleyan worked a walk to put two on with two outs, but Karlie Neale ended the threat with a diving catch in foul territory to keep it a one-run game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fisher had something going as Katie Mazierski broke up the no-hitter with an opposite field single and moved into scoring position when Sarah Kubik was hit by a pitch, but the Marlins were able to wiggle out of trouble after inducing a ground out to short to keep it at 1-0 heading to the fifth.
Virginia Wesleyan struck again in the top of the fifth after blasting a two-out solo home run over the center field fence to double its advantage and would go on to add two more runs in the top of the seventh on the strength of a two-run shot to right-center to open up a 4-0 lead.
As the seventh inning continued, the Marlins scored again as a runner from third base crossed home plate before Fisher tagged another runner out at second.
Fisher continued to battle in the late innings, but was unable to solve the Marlins' All-American pitcher as the Cardinals did not have a base runner reach over the final three innings of play. Thayer had a nine-game winning streak snapped and moved to 31-6 after allowing four runs on five hits over six-and-a-third innings of work. Thayer notched just four strikeouts before being lifted for Monica Moses who collected the final two outs of the seventh inning.
VIRGINIA WESLEYAN 1, FISHER 0
The two teams continued to hold the other at bay to start the second game. Fisher had a runner on base in each of the first four innings, but was unable to come up with a timely hit.
In the bottom of the fourth, Virginia Wesleyan broke the tie with one run on two hits and was poised to put up a crooked number after putting runners at second and third before an out had been recorded. Facing an uphill climb, Thayer and her defense stood tall and kept it a one-run game after notching three outs including a big strikeout to escape the jam.
The Cardinals put the tying run on base in the top of the sixth inning with just one out after Ashley Prince worked a walk, but the Marlins, who had brought in their All-American left-hander in relief, kept Fisher off the board after a fly out followed by a ground out to the right side to maintain their 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, The Cardinals went to their bench, but were unable to get anything going as the Marlins struck out the side to claim the championship.
Thayer allowed just one run on two hits over six innings and tallied four strikeouts in all. At the conclusion of the tournament, Thayer and Kubik were each named to the All-Tournament Team. In five starts, Kubik batted .286 (4-for-14) with five RBI while Thayer posted a 3-2 record in the circle with 41 strikeouts in just over 33 innings of work.