CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a battle of two schools seeking their first A-10 conference title, top-seeded Fordham (41-17) defeated third-seeded Saint Joseph’s (31-16), 4-0, in the championship game of the 2011 Atlantic 10 Conference Softball Championship.

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Mineau

“We’re just super excited to accomplish our goal,” said Fordham head coach Bridget Orchard.  “I’ve been here for 10 years and we’ve come too close; we’ve been runner-up a few times, and these girls have been a part of it, and to just finally bring it home it’s so good.”

For the third time in as many games in this year’s tournament, the Rams’ rode the arm of junior pitcher Jen Mineau (23-7) as she went the distance shutting out the Hawks while allowing just one-hit.  Mineau struck out 10 and did not walk a batter en route to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. 

“The last inning, it was just about closing it out, bringing it home for Fordham,” said Mineau.  “This is huge, this is the first time Fordham’s ever won a softball championship.”

Mineau was virtually untouchable in the A-10 Tournament pitching every inning of every game in leading Fordham to its first conference championship.  Mineau went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA as she gave up six hits and no runs in 24.0 innings pitched.  She finished the tournament with 27 strikeouts while issuing just four walks. 

“I knew I had a string of shutouts going, it’s what you aim for every game, so you don’t really approach the game any differently. I’m just doing my job,” added Mineau.

“[Jen Mineau] has been huge,” said Orchard.  “She had a rough start in the beginning with an injury but just kept with it, kept battling and came here in the A-10 championship and turned it on, with just one or two hits, which makes it easy for us to win games.”

Nicole Callahan went 2-for-3 in the championship game to pace the Rams offense, while Samantha Pellechio, Beckah Wiggins and Chelsea Palumbo each registered a hit. 

“They’ve worked so hard and they really deserve it,” added Orchard.  “I’m proud of them for everything they’ve accomplished. This weekend, everything kind of clicked together, we started peaking at the right time. You could start feeling the excitement and energy towards that game and I’m just really happy for them.”

Alaina Loguidice recorded the lone hit for the Hawks on Saturday singling to left in the third. 

Erin Gallagher (22-10) suffered the loss in the circle as she went 2.1 innings allowing four runs, two earned, on three hits as she walked three and struck out two.  Taryn Ashway came in relief and blanked the Rams over 3.2 innings allowing just two hits while striking out one. 

Both teams registered their first base runners of the game in the second inning.  Saint Joseph’s Deanna Stinner reached with two outs after being hit by a pitch from Mineau, but she would remain at first as the Rams right hander got Taylor Korpita swinging on strikes for the third out of the inning.

Fordham would counter first plating a pair of runs without recording a hit in the second taking advantage of two walks and a pair of fielding errors by the Hawks.  The first two batters to the plate for the Rams in the bottom of the inning reached as Jamie LaBovick drew a lead-off walk and moved to second as Wiggins reached on a fielding error at second.  Both runners would advance a base as Palumbo grounded out to first.  After a walk to Gabby Luety loaded the bases for the Rams, Fordham got on the board with two runs courtesy of a throwing error by the Hawks shortstop.   Jessica Crowley sent a chopper to short but the throw to the plate went to the back stop as LaBovick and Wiggins scored to give the Rams a 2-0 lead.  Gallagher would escape further trouble recording a strikeout and a fielder’s choice putout at third. 

Loguidice gave Saint Joseph’s its first and only hit of the afternoon singling through the left side with one out in the third.  But Mineau retired the next two batters that she faced on a fly out and groundout to maintain the Rams’ two-run lead.

Fordham added to its lead with two more runs in the third to take a 4-0 advantage.  Callahan led off the inning with a single up the middle on the first pitch from Gallagher and then was lifted for a pinch runner in Brianna Ciuffi.  She would score a batter later when Pellechio tripled down the line in right and scored as the throw from Shannon Kramer in right went into the dugout for the fourth run of the afternoon. 

With the win, Fordham receives the A-10’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA Softball Championship which begins Friday, May 20.  The berth marks the second straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Rams. 

“We’re hoping we’re peaking at the right time as we head into Regionals and hopefully we can represent the A-10 and do some damage nationally,” added Orchard.