Thoma Sends Anchorwomen Into LEC Championship Game
RIC student Justina Thoma
Mansfield, Conn. – Junior first baseman Justina Thoma (Canterbury, Conn.) belted a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to eliminate third-seeded Western Connecticut, 5-2, and send sixth-seeded Rhode Island College into the 2014 Little East Conference Softball Tournament Championship Game for the second consecutive season.
The Anchorwomen (15-25) will face fifth-seeded Keene State in the Championship Game at noon. RIC will need to defeat the Owls, who are 3-0 at the tournament, twice in order to claim the league’s title. Keene State swept a doubleheader from RIC during the regular season and downed the Anchorwomen, 5-2, yesterday afternoon.
During the regular season, the Anchorwomen split a doubleheader with the Colonials (31-11-1), winning, 7-3, and losing, 7-3, at the Dayna A. Bazar Softball Complex on April 17.
The Anchorwomen built a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second when Thoma was hit by a pitch and sophomore left fielder Abigail Francis (Worcester, Mass.) walked. With two down, sophomore catcher Tori Lussier (North Franklin, Conn.) doubled to right center to bring in the duo.
However, Western struck back in the top of the fifth when sophomore left fielder Maegan Rodriguez (East Haven, Conn.) walked with one down and advanced to second on a ground out. Junior third baseman Nina Wojtkiewicz (Griswold, Conn.) followed by tagging RIC senior pitcher Michelle Sylvestre (Warwick, R.I.) for a two-run homer to tie the game, 2-2.
In the sixth, WCSU sophomore catcher Erin Weber (Rocky Hill, Conn.) doubled and junior first baseman Juila Bocek (Southington, Conn.) reached on a bunt single to put runners on first and third with no outs. Sylvestre got out of the jam by getting senior designated player Kylee Ruther (Stamford, Conn.) to line into a double play that was started by RIC junior shortstop Katelyn Sykora (Waterford, Conn.). Sylvestre followed with a ground out to strand Weber at third and end the threat.
In the seventh, the Colonials put runners at first and second with two down, but once again Sylvestre induced a fielder’s choice ground out to get out of the frame unscathed.
With one out in the final frame, RIC senior right fielder Kristina Gingell (Pascoag, RI) led off with a double and classmate center fielder Stacy Pokora (Wilton, Conn.) was intentionally walked, which set the stage for Thoma’s heroics.
Thoma went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI in the game. Sylvestre earned the win (9-11), allowing two runs, on seven hits in a complete game effort.
Western sophomore reliever Alle Sabith (Meriden, Conn.) took the loss (16-8), allowing three runs on three hits in two innings of work.