Fordham University couldn’t finish off South Carolina and saw its season draw to a close instead.
The Rams took a one-run lead into the bottom of the sixth inning of an elimination game against the Gamecocks, but allowing two unearned runs in the frame was too much to overcome. The Fordham softball team eventually fell 5-4 to South Carolina in the losers’ bracket of Tallahassee Regional of the NCAA Tournament on May 17. A poor throw on a bunt back to reliever Patti Maloney allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
“I think it was kind of a blown opportunity,” Fordham coach Bridget Orchard said. “It was kind of right there in our grasps. We have won those time and time again and to let it slip away, especially with it being an error was tough to swallow.”
There was still plenty to be proud of in the contest. The Rams had the guts to rally twice despite losing to host and No. 8 ranked Florida State 6-1 the day before. They tied the score at 2-2 in the fourth when senior shortstop Elise Fortier launched a two-run homer to centerfield. The blast set a new career mark for round trippers at 46, besting Jocelyn Dearborn’s mark from 2011. The homer also provided a much-needed lift for her team.
“When they saw her do that there they all kind of got pumped up,” Orchard said. “I think at that time they felt they were going to win.”
Fordham, the Atlantic-10 champions, grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fifth thanks to an RBI singles from freshman Sydney Canessa and Fortier, who had three RBI on the day. The Rams led 4-3, but could not maintain the advantage in the sixth over South Carolina (36-21).
The defeat put and end to another stellar season for Fordham (36-20). It had an eight-game losing streak early in the year, only to turn around and post 15 straight victories to to help it clinch the conference regular season title. The Rams went on to claim their third Atlantic-10 title in the last four years.
“It was awesome,” Orchard said. “Winning the A-10 championship at home on our home field it was so exciting.”
The coach losses just four seniors from this squad, but that includes Fortier and fellow power hitter Gabby Luety. The two combined for 33 home runs and 117 RBI this season. Orchard will miss their bats and leadership. A solid core led by Canessa, fellow freshman Sydney Canessa and junior ace Michele Daubman will be back. Not winning a game in the regional has already fueled the returning player’s competitive spirits.
“To get that kind of experience for the freshman is going to help us next year,” Orchard said. “When we get there next year the nerves shouldn’t be there. I think the rest of the returning players it kind of left a bad taste in their mouth. They are already excited to get going for next year. They want to be back there.”