Fordham bashes St. Louis for second straight Atlantic-10 softball title

A day after its tensest game of the season Fordham University left little room for drama in the conference title game.

Freshman Sydney Canessa led of the bottom of the first inning with a home run to left center field and the Rams never looked back. Top-seeded Fordham exploded for an 11-0 five-inning run-rule victory over No. 2 and visiting St. Louis in the Atlantic-10 softball tournament final on May 10. Fordham, which won its second straight crown and third in the last four years, pounded out 13 hits, including six doubles and three home runs. No hit was bigger than Canessa’s.

“Fortunately for me it went over the fence and that just set the tone of the game,” said Canessa, who was 2-for-3 with three RBI. “After that I think everyone was just pumped up and ready to go.”

It provided a much different feeling followed a 2-1 nail bitter against the Billikens (30-21) in the semifinals the day before. Fordham needed back-to-back home runs from Elise Fortier and Kayla Lombardo in the bottom for the sixth inning for the comeback win to avoid going into the losers bracket of the double elimination tournament. Canessa’s blast allowed the entire team to relax.

“Having that lead off home run I think set the tone for the entire game for our entire offense to just come out and start ripping balls,” pitcher Michele Daubman said.

Gabby Lutey added an RBI single in the first to make it 2-0. The Rams scored four runs in the second, highlighted by a rocket to left center for a two-run homer from Fortier to increase the lead to 6-0 against St. Louis starter Brianna Lore. The round tripper ties Fortier with Jocelyn Dearborn, a 2011 grad, for the program’s career mark at 45.

Fordham (35–18) batted around in the third, scoring five more times. Canessa and Cora Ianiro, who has three RBI on the day, each had two-run doubles and Luty smashed a deep solo homer run over the mess fence in left field for the 43rd of her career. The team’s performance was indicative of how the Rams have hit all season and they picked the right time for breakout offensive performance in the tournament.

“It’s what Fordham softball can do,” Fortier said. “It’s what we have done all year. It’s great to go out with a win like that.”

The constant throughout the tournament was Daubman’s performance in the circle and it earned her most valuable player honors. She allowed just two hits and struck out two in five innings of work to have her best three-day span of the season. The junior went 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 16 innings of work.

“She really stepped it up,” Canessa said. “She did a great job. She really trusted us behind her to make the plays. She kept the hitters off balance. She just did an awesome job.”

Her teammates backed her up with their bat as well this team and allowed the players and coach Bridget Orchard to enjoy not having to sweat through another tight contest like the semifinals.

“It felt so good,” Orchard said. “I don’t think I could have taken another one, my stomach, my head. I didn’t want to play another game.”

Instead Fordham’s next contest will come against No. 7-ranked Florida State in the Tallahassee regional on May 16. Last year the Rams felt happy just to be there. The team’s mindset is much different heading into the NCAA tournament.

“We didn’t just want to get to regionals,” Fortier said. “We want to get farther. That’s still our goal from the beginning. We have finished that goal yet.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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