GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Gettysburg College claimed its first Centennial Conference softball championship in 11 years after weather wiped out the final day of competition in the postseason tournament on Sunday.
Gettysburg (24-14) was slated to face off with Haverford College (21-12) in a final deciding game Sunday afternoon, but a strong douse of rain overnight drenched Bobby Jones Field and despite the best efforts of the grounds crew, the field needed too much work to get ready in the small window of clear conditions Sunday morning. Another steady rain came at noon and the conference championship committee opted to cancel the final contest after waiting two hours.
As the highest remaining seed, the Bullets claimed the Centennial title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. It was the program's fourth championship and first since 2007. Gettysburg will compete in the national tournament for the third time in program history.
"It is awesome to be Centennial Conference champion," said senior captain Stephanie Leonardo (East Haddam, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall). "We're looking forward to playing in regionals this coming weekend and again, taking the same approach, winning every pitch and playing our best softball."
Senior Wendy Folfas (Westminster, Md./McDonogh School) was named the CC Championship Most Valuable Player. Folfas led the Bullets with seven hits during the tournament and posted two RBI. Her ninth-inning single brought in the game-winning run as Gettysburg avenged its first-round loss to Washington with a 5-3 victory.
"I was really surprised," said Folfas. "I didn't think I did as well as I did. I didn't know the statistics. It was a 100 percent team effort and it could have gone to any of the girls on this team."
Gettysburg's well-rounded lineup was on full display during the tournament. Folfas was one of nine Bullets with at least two hits. Eight players also drove in at least two runs, while 10 players scored a run.
After dropping its opening game to Washington College, Gettysburg battled its way back Saturday, avoiding elimination with three victories. In the first test of adversity against McDaniel College, the Bullets put the ball into the hands of veteran pitcher Aileen Reilly (Huntington Station, N.Y./St. Anthony's). Reilly responded by limiting a talented Green Terror lineup to a pair of runs while striking out six in a 5-2 win The victory also made her the program's all-time leader.
"That was an awesome game to get that honor and it's something I'll always remember because it was such a battle," said Reilly, who improved her career record to 56-27. "We've had a great team for four years and it's something I'll always look back on."
Following that win, the team drew a rematch with Washington. Gettysburg jumped in front from the outset and managed to pull off the win in extras on Folfas' aforementioned base hit. That set the stage for a championship showdown with Haverford, which had won both of its games to reach the finale.
The Fords came in with momentum after rallying to beat Washington on a grand slam in the seventh inning earlier in the afternoon, but the Bullets were just getting warmed up. Playing in its third game of the day, Gettysburg broke out the bats for its best offensive showing of the year.
"I think partially momentum was in our favor," noted Leonardo, who went 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI against Haverford. "We'd already won two games that day and we knew we could do it. We kept pushing and we kept hitting the ball."
The Bullets handily defeated Haverford 14-6 in five innings to force a deciding seventh game of the playoffs. Unfortunately for the fans, Mother Nature had other things in mind, leading to the first incomplete tournament since 2009.
Gettysburg came into the weekend focused on playing its game and winning every pitch. That mentality led to a 14-2 campaign in the Centennial Conference and the program's first championship in over a decade. After finishing runner-up in two of the previous three seasons, the Bullets hoisted the CC trophy high Sunday afternoon.
"I think after four years all of our hard work has paid off," said Reilly. "It's about leaving a legacy. It's always something we've said, we just want to leave behind a legacy better than it was the year before us and keep getting better. I'm excited to see where the program is going to go in the future."
The immediate future will see the Orange and Blue compete in the NCAA Division III Regional Championship May 10-12. The rest of the national playoff field and host sites will be announced Monday at 1 p.m. on NCAA.com.