The 2012 Golden Bear softball team earned the most wins in school history with a record of 52-7. However, they were still unable to accomplish what the 2013 softball team did: win the PSAC Championship.
On May 4, 2013 the KU softball team won the PSAC Championship for the first time. The PSAC tournament finished dramatically in extra innings. The Golden Bears (29-21) defeated the California University of Pennsylvania (36-4) softball team in the tenth inning to win 10-7; senior Brianna Knipe sniped a walk off homer to score three runs and earn the title of PSAC Champion.
California University was by far the toughest team in the tournament. According to the NCAA, California University is currently the seventh best team in Division II softball and the best team in the Atlantic Region. KU was severely under valued before heading into this game. With KU in the No. 10 spot in the Atlantic Region, KU three teams in the PSAC Championships were considered better than them, according to the NCAA. West Chester, at fourth, and Bloomsburg, at eighth, were both defeated by the Golden Bears on their way to the title.
The championship game was remarkable, especially in light of KU’s solid batting. KU took a one run lead in the second inning after two consecutive home runs from seniors Maria Isgro and Nicole Henninger.
Despite the shift in momentum, sophomore pitcher Dominique Ficara struggled in the third inning and allowed five runs. In the same inning, for the third scoring at bat in a row, junior Colleen Smith hit a home run, scoring two RBIs instead of one.
Heading into the fifth inning, KU was down 7-4. The first to chip away at the lead was junior Jackie Hetzler. She scored off of senior Katie Lynch hit. A play later, Lynch attempted a steal to second base. Though she was thrown out, junior Morgan Booth, having been on third at the time, simultaneously stole to score at home, cutting the lead down to one.
In the sixth, Knipe would score the game tying run off of freshman Krista Schauder only at-bat of the game.
Finally, in the bottom of the tenth, with Isgro and Henninger on base, Knipe rocked the fourth homer of the game and the most important home run of the year.
“I’ve been waiting so long for this moment. I knew with Isgro on second, all I had to do was make good contact and she would score. Once I saw it go over the wall, I was so excited because I knew we finally achieved our goal,” Knipe said in an interview with kubears.com.
After the game, Knipe was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honor. In four games, Knipe had two home runs and six hits, batting a .429 in the tournament.
Sophomore Mary Kocienki came into the game after Ficara struggled in the third. Kocienki was the winning pitcher, throwing 93 pitches total. She allowed five hits, two runs and recorded two strike outs. Currently, she has a 14-9 record this season.
On their way to becoming PSAC Champions, KU defeated three teams. They won against Mercyhurst University 4-1, West Chester University 11-3 and Bloomsburg University 3-2.
Head Coach Judy Lawes is very proud of her team. She said to the kubears.com website, “we had some rough slumps along the way, but they believed in themselves and each other, and that is something I will always remember.”
The PSAC Championship is just the beginning for the Golden Bears. Last season, KU went all the way to the NCAA Division II Semifinals. This year they have the opportunity to do the same. As the No. 6 seed in the Atlantic Region, the Golden Bears will travel to Shippensburg, Pa. to take on the No. 3 seed West Virginia State. The action begins again Friday, May 10.’
By Jess Woons