AKRON, Ohio (Softball) -- For the third time in four years, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Pomeroy softball team hoisted up the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Softball Championship trophy. Head Coach Mark Feller and his team bested Cleary University on Thursday afternoon in the 2017 USCAA Championship game with a score of 8-4 to claim the national title.
The title is the 11th for SMWC in the team's long tradition of winning. The Pomeroys captured the title in 2000, 2002-05, 2007-08 and 2015-17.
Game action started with Cleary (31-17) getting a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods answered back in the bottom of the inning with a run as Hollie Jones was driven home by Emma Riffe's ground out. Jones hit a triple to get on base.
SMWC (29-6) found a rhythm and capitalized on the Cougars mistakes in the third and fourth innings. The Pomeroys scored seven unanswered runs to set the score at 8-1. Baylee Water singled to left to score pinch runner Jacklyn McClain, 2-1. Riffe followed Water with a single to drive in Jones, 3-1. Camille Ulery ground out to third base to score Water, 4-1. Marlee Yeager hit a double to drive Riffe, 5-1. In the bottom of the fourth, Nicole Niespodziany hit a single and moved on a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Andrew. After an out, Jones singled to third base to advance Niespodziany to third. Water hit a perfectly placed single to left to score all three runners.
Cleary attempted to mount a rally in the top of the sixth inning. The Cougars scored three runs on SMWC's overthrown balls and wild pitches. CU clawed back to set the score at 8-4 but it would not be enough. Great defensive play by Saint Mary-of-the-Woods effectively shut down the rally and ended the contest.
The top hitter for SMWC was Waters as she went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Riffe also collected two RBI for the day.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods bull pen was led by Andrew as she picked up the win throwing 5.1 innings and allowing five hits for The Woods.
For Cleary, Riley Thompson took the loss throwing four innings allowing nine hits, and striking out five.
The Pomeroys had three athletes earn All-USCAA Tournament superlatives as Yeager and Stephanie Richardson were named to the all-tournament team and Jones was named tournament MVP.