May 7 – NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Despite receiving a pair of masterful pitching performances from sophomore Cassie Weiss (Washington, Pa./McGuffey), the Bethany College softball team fell prey to a pair of walk-off, 1-0, defeats at the hands of Saint Vincent College in the championship round of the Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday.
Combined in the pair of games, Weiss threw 13.1 innings of work, allowing just 10 hits and two earned runs while striking out seven Bearcats.
However, Weiss was bested by her pitching counterpart from Saint Vincent, as Bearcat ace Samantha Emert didn't surrender a single run in 14 innings of work en route to earning Tournament MVP honors.
The Bison were not without chances against Emert, however, as the Green & White put 19 batters on base throughout the doubleheader, collecting 12 hits and drawing six free passes.
Needing just one victory to earn their first PAC title since 2011, the Bison were not without their chances in game one. The first opportunity for Bethany came in the fifth inning as they loaded the bases with two outs, but failed to score.
In the bottom of the fifth, Saint Vincent received their first chance, as the leadoff runner reached on a walk. However, a diving catch on a bunt attempt by junior Sarah Coss (Bowie, Md./Bishop McNamara) helped the Bison start a double play to get the Green & White out of the inning.
Bethany once again loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning with two outs. Senior Kayla Kelly (Pasadena, Md./Institute of Notre Dame) and Aubrey Baehr (Evans City, Pa./Seneca Valley) reached on back-to-back hits before Deanna Mihalco (Patterson, N.Y./Brewster) walked to load the bases. However, the Bison were once again turned away, keeping the game scoreless heading into the home half of the seventh.
Saint Vincent forced another game on the day by earning the walkoff winner in the seventh. A pair of singles put runners on first and third with one out, before a sacrifice fly from Breanne Wallace drove in Nicole Adisey for the game winner.
In the second game of the afternoon, Weiss was once again terrific, allowing just two hits through the first six innings of the game. However, Emert matched zeros with the Bison ace throughout the matchup.
Bethany's biggest chance of the decisive game came in the top of the seventh as Taylor Solomon led off the inning with a double to left field. However, the Bison failed to drive her in, once again setting up the late-game winner for the Bearcats.
After retiring the first two batters she faced in the seventh inning, Saint Vincent collected three straight hits, including the walkoff single by Sarah Swettlen, which handed the Green & White the 1-0 loss.
Despite the pair of decisions, Weiss was named to the PAC All-Tournament team for her dominate performance throughout the four games in which she played.
Weiss made all four starts for the Green & White in the PAC playoffs, throwing 29.1 innings while posting an ERA of 0.95. She held her opponents to a .231 batting average, striking out a total of 21 batters.
With her strikeout total, Weiss became the all-time Bethany single-season record holder in strikeouts with 172, breaking Heather Immesberger's 2008 mark of 165.
Other players that were named to the All-Tournament Team included Kelly and Mihalco. Offensively, Mihalco posted just two hits in the tournament but tallied an on-base percentage of .813 as she drew 11 walks, reaching base in 13 of her 16 plate appearances.
Kelly finished the tournament with a trio of hits and a RBI, but made her mark on the defensive end. Two of her outfield assists helped the Green & White make it to day two of the Tournament as she threw a potential go-ahead run out at the plate in each of the team's first two games.
The Bison finished the season with a mark of 22-20 while earning a spot in the PAC Championship Tournament final for the second-consecutive season.
Finishing two games over .500, the Green & White also qualify for the Eastern College Athletic Conference postseason, and will await a decision from the ECAC next week.