SALEM, Va. — The 41st consecutive win had to be the sweetest for St. Thomas as they knocked off a stubborn Moravian squad 2-1 Monday night to claim the school’s first softball national title.
St. Thomas capped an unbelievable 2004 season with a 46-4 mark, while Moravian took national runner-up honors behind a 40-6 campaign.
“It was another great team effort for us,” St. Thomas head coach John Tschida said following the championship win. “We had a lot of players step up and take on big roles all year.”
Janet Nagle tossed a one-hit shutout in a dual with Moravian sophomore Meagan Hennessey to win here 31st straight decision. Hennessy went the distance for the Greyhounds, allowing two runs, one earned and just five hits in the losing effort.
“Meagan Hennessy is small in stature but huge in heart,” Tschida said. “They had some great comebacks in this tournament. They had to battle so hard for so many innings, and I think they showed tremendous heart.”
Both pitchers allowed just three runners to reach base through the first four innings, but St. Thomas finally found an offensive rhythm with two outs in the fifth.
“Meagan pitched a great game,” Moravian head coach John Byrne said. “We played them hard, and it was a great game for a championship game. I’m proud of the way our team played tonight.”
Kathleen Fitzpatrick singled and stole second, and Nikki Conway followed with a single that scored Fitzpatrick from second. After a throwing error moved Conway to third, Michelle Wong delivered a base hit just over the bag at first that put the Tommies on top 2-0.
After allowing a double to Krissy Cianfichi in the third, Nagle retired 12 of the last 14 Moravian batters she faced.
“We tried to keep throwing hard at them,” Nagle said. “I have a great defense behind me, and it doesn’t matter about striking a lot of batters out. We had some great defensive plays tonight.”
Nagle earned a spot on the all-tournament team along with fellow Tommies Conway and Carrie Embree. Hennessy also earned a spot on the team along with teammates Lauren Homa and Melissa Soroka. The other members were Colleen Trybus of Alma; Leslie White, Erin Ruest and Leslie White of Salisbury; Brittany Ziegler of Chapman; Amanda Dow-Allen of Wheaton; and Erin Zupko and Kim Tackett from Muskingum.