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Rutgers-Camden Takes First Division III Title in Any Sport
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Rutgers-Camden knew that it did not want to play tomorrow, despite that being St. Thomas's ultimate goal for the day. However, after an emotional 10-inning victory to reach the championship game, St. Thomas did not have the gas left that it would take to reach tomorrow's if-necessary game.
Rutgers-Camden used three unearned runs to win its first national championship in any sport with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in today's title game at the Division III national championship. In doing so, the national tournament rookie Scarlet Raptors denied the No. 1-ranked Tommies a third consecutive title.??The Tommies had a chance to tie in the bottom of seventh inning with one out, but two strikeouts by all-American Michelle Schlichtig ended any hopes of a comeback. Schlichtig pitched a four-hit, eight-strikeout complete game for the win, her fourth of the tournament.
"Every senior wants to end their senior year with a win. When I was on the mound I stayed focused and the thought of losing never crossed my mind. I just stuck with the game plan that we had for the game and it worked out," said Schlichtig.
Nikki Conway again was a force at the plate for St. Thomas, starting the Toms offense off with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, her 17th of the season. The hit extended a postseason hit streak for Conway to all 12 games St. Thomas has played. Conway finished her career with 48 home runs, third most in Division III history, and a D-III record 229 runs.?
In the bottom of the fourth, St. Thomas starting pitcher Maria Bye reached with a leadoff walk and stole second base. Pinch runner Anne Carpentier took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Janet Nagle single that broke a 1-1 tie. Rutgers answered in the top of the sixth with a two-out walk, a passed ball and an RBI single to make it 2-2. The deciding factor came in the seventh, as the Scarlet Raptors used a hit and an infield throwing error to score the go-ahead run. All three Rutgers-Camden runs were the result of St. Thomas errors, a pattern that had begun in the first of the teams' meetings yesterday.??"It doesn’t get any better than this. We didn’t hit well today but we got some breaks that went our way. I worked hard to get this program where it is today. These players did what couldn’t be done," said Rutgers-Camden head coach Carl Taylor.