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Monthly Archives: April 2017

PAC Softball Championship Preview: Thomas More Looks to Break Host-Team Hex

By Justin Zackal

Dallis Knotts and the Thomas More Saints look to break the “home-team hex” at this year’s PAC softball championships.

Thomas More clinched home field in this weekend’s PAC Softball Championship Tournament last Friday by sweeping a doubleheader at Westminster, the site of last year’s tournament.

Sure, it was meaningful for the Saints (32-8, 18-0 PAC) to beat the second-place Titans (26-10, 14-4 PAC) and finish the conference schedule unbeaten. But Thomas More head coach Lindsay Egan could only think about two things that will happen off the field this week.

“We get to sleep in our own beds and it we get to take our finals when we need to take them,” Eagan said.

Like many schools, Thomas More will take final exams for the spring semester this week, but unlike any other team in the PAC, traveling as anything but the top seed would mean a hotel stay and more than a four-hour drive to Pennsylvania or West Virginia from Kentucky.

Thomas More will take home field over any hocus-pocus about how the top-seeded host team has not won the PAC tournament since 2011. Thomas More won five of the last 10 PAC championships but only the 2009 Saints won on their home field. The other time Thomas More hosted the tournament was in 2014, but third-seeded Washington & Jefferson won the title that year.

“It’s the game of softball,” said Eagan, attempting to explain what has plagued home teams. “Anybody can win on any given day.”

In last year’s PAC tournament at Westminster, third-seeded Saint Vincent beat fourth-seeded Bethany, 1-0, in the final game, after the Bearcats handed Thomas More both of its losses in the double-elimination tournament, 1-0 and 4-3.

Eagan points to players peaking at the right time as making a difference. Saint Vincent pitcher Samantha Emert won four games to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. Emert is back as a senior this year, ranking in the top four in the PAC in ERA (1.60, third), strikeouts (94, fourth) and wins (15-6, fourth), while leading Saint Vincent (18-14, 11-7 PAC) again as the third-seeded team.

Westminster’s Jazmyn Rohrer could be this year’s peak performer. The junior pitcher leads the PAC with an 0.98 ERA, 16-3 record, six shutouts and her 121 strikeouts rank second, this despite Thomas More blemishing her marks with eight runs (six earned) off 11 hits in last Friday’s 8-0 win that clinched the Saints home-field advantage.

Standout junior 1B Shelby Noel hopes to lead Saint Vincent to back-to-back PAC crowns.

Saint Vincent junior first baseman Shelby Noel is the top hitter in the PAC with a .465 batting averaging and 25 extra-base hits, including eight homers. However, Thomas More has four of the top seven hitters in the league, led by freshman infielder Andrea Gahan (.441).

“Our squad, anybody can have a good day,” Eagan said. “It’s somebody new every day. That helps the team win.”

Thomas More is out to win its sixth PAC title and first since 2015, while both Saint Vincent (2016) and Westminster (2005) are seeking their second PAC titles. Fourth-seeded Thiel (16-18, 11-7 PAC) has never won the league crown.

The PAC Sports Network (www.pacstream.net) will broadcast all the games at Thomas More starting Friday with Saint Vincent vs. Westminster at 10 a.m., followed by Thiel vs. Thomas More at noon, the two losers from the first two games at 2 p.m. and the two winners at 4 p.m. Saturday’s games are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (if necessary).

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