Softball Ends Record-Breaking Season At NCAA's

May 14, 2011

The fourth-seeded St. John Fisher Cardinals (30-13-1) hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the 14th inning on their way to eliminating the third-seeded Middlebury Panthers (30-8) with a 9-5 win Saturday in the NCAA Division III Softball Regional at Ithaca College. The Panthers end their record-breaking season with a record of 30-8.

The game was just the ninth in the 29 years of the Division III Championship Tournament to last at least 14 innings and the two teams combined for an NCAA playoff-record 39 total bases.

Second baseman Megan Zoerb hit a three-run home run in the top of the 14th to put the Cardinals up for good and third baseman Kayla Goodberlet followed with a solo shot. Sarah Stefanon threw all 14 innings for St. John Fisher, striking out 11 and raising her record to 15-5.

The Panthers, who were making the program’s first NCAA playoff appearance, battled back to tie the game twice – once on a two-out three-run home run by Sarah Boylan and again in the bottom of the ninth when shortstop Jessa Hoffman doubled home center fielder Nellie Wood after the Cardinals taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning on a lead-off home run by Leanne Merchant.

The Panthers nearly won the game after Wood scored the tying run; a single by right fielder Leslie Crawford put runners at first and third with one out, but St. John Fisher got out of the inning when Goodberlet turned a soft liner to third into an unassisted double play.

Zoerb singled in the game’s first run to open the Cardinals’ three-run third inning. St. John Fisher scored two more runs on Middlebury errors.

First baseman Jessica Poracky put the Panthers on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the third; the Cardinals got the run back in the fifth when center fielder Jenn Vanek scored on an infield error.

Vanek finished with three of St. John Fisher’s 11 hits. Goodberlet, Zoerb and catcher Jamie Harmon each had two hits.

Crawford led the Panther offense with three hits. Boylan, Hoffman and first baseman Megan Margel had two apiece. 

Burbridge was named to the all-tournament team.