PAC Softball Championships Preview: Bethany Grabs Top Seed

By John D’Abruzzo

If there really is no place like home, then obviously there’s no better place for Bethany College’s softball team to play during the postseason than Bison Field.

Bethany earned the rights to host this year’s annual Presidents’ Athletic Conference Softball Championship Tournament after it finished 22-14 overall and with a 13-6 mark in the PAC to earn this year’s No. 1 seed.

“I like playing at home and like the home-field advantage,” longtime Bethany coach Jan Forsty said. “I don’t know our record at home but we play well here.”

Actually, the Bison went 11-3 at home this year. They closed out their regular-season schedule with an impressive nine-game winning streak and are hosting the conference tournament for the first time since they captured the 2011 championship. Bethany also will be challenging for a conference-leading 14th PAC title.


Bethany Coach Jan Forsty captured her 700th career win this season.

“I am real excited about how we’ve been playing,” said Forsty, who is in her 28th season and recently captured her 700th career win on April 19. “We’re playing well all around as a team. We don’t have that one dominate pitcher or that big hitter. We just have a good, solid team. We get good performances from our pitchers and have gotten some good hits when we’ve needed them.

“More than anything, the kids believe in themselves. Our team chemistry is just phenomenal.”

Thomas More College (23-15, 13-5) earned the No. 2 seed in the four-team, double-elimination tournament and will face No. 3 Washington & Jefferson College (18-14, 11-7) at 10 a.m. Friday in Bethany, W.Va. Following that game, the Bison will play No. 4 Saint Vincent College (23-9, 11-7) at noon.

The losers of those two opening-round matchups will meet in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Friday, which will be followed by a contest featuring the two winners at 4 p.m. The tournament will continue Saturday morning at 11 a.m. with the championship game to be played later in the afternoon. The PAC champion also will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Softball Championships, which begin with a regional preliminary round on May 7.

The PAC Sports Network will broadcast all of the PAC tournament games live at

Washington & Jefferson, which was the No. 3 seed last season, is the defending PAC champion. The Presidents beat No. 2 Geneva College in last year’s title game, 6-3.

“We brought back five seniors and five juniors this year, so our hopes were high, especially since we came so close last year,” Forsty said. “We were the No. 4 seed and lost to Thomas Moore by one run in extra innings, and then we lost to W&J.

“Last year definitely helped our kids. It took some time to get it going, but once we gained that confidence and believed in what they were doing, the winning followed.”

Bethany’s Kayla Kelly, a junior outfielder, was one of the conference’s top hitters during the regular season. She batted .411 (46 for 112) with four home runs, 27 RBIs and 26 runs scored. Pitching-wise, the Bison had three reliable starters in Cassie Weiss, Kiersten Conwell and Kelsey Bish. Weiss, a freshman, went 7-5 during the regular season with 69 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. Conwell, a senior, posted a 6-1 record with 40 strikeouts and a 3.83 ERA. Bish, a senior, was 7-2 with 41 strikeouts and a 4.22 ERA.

“We didn’t start strong and we were actually in a situation where didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs,” said Forsty, whose team lost five of their first eight games. “Once we got down to where we needed to win games, we started playing better. Then we feed of that and feed off that and feed off that, to the point where we were able to gain confidence.”

For Thomas Moore, junior shortstop Ava Walker paces the Saints’ offense with a .381 average and 18 doubles. Junior pitcher/outfielder Mamee Saltzer leads Thomas Moore with 29 runs batted in and 11 doubles to go with her .347 average. Saltzer also is the Saints’ top pitcher. She owns a 14-9 record with 108 strikeouts and a 2.33 ERA.

W&J is the reigning PAC Champion.

W&J is the reigning PAC Champion.

Jen Bahm, a senior catcher/infielder, started all 34 games for W&J and paces the Presidents with a .377 average and 12 doubles. Junior pitcher/infielder Emily Watson has a team-leading 23 RBIs. She also is W&J’s ace with a 9-6 record from the circle with 56 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA.

Saint Vincent has been led by freshman pitcher/outfielder Emily Duerr, freshman first baseman Shelby Noel, junior outfielder Sarah Swettlen and sophomore pitcher Samantha Emert. Duerr enters the playoffs batting .500 with 29 RBIs, while Noel is batting .446 with 12 doubles and 29 RBIs. Swettlen paces the team with seven home runs to go with her .379 average and 24 RBIs. Emert is the team’s star pitcher and she owns a 11-4 record with 48 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA in 13 starts.

“We just need to continue to stay hot,” Forsty said. “All the of teams are outstanding and they each have some outstanding players.”