By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — The Pomeroys of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College may have a different softball coach this season, but their team mission is the same.
That’s to win the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national championship, which takes place this weekend.
The Woods (20-13) and five other teams will engage in pool play today at the Roundhouse Complex in Mattoon, Ill.
The Woods are in Pool B with Penn State-Beaver and Briarcliffe (N.Y.). Pool A consists of St. Joseph’s (N.Y), Judson and defending national champion Robert Morris-Springfield.
Today, coach Gary Rodgers’ Pomeroys will take on Briarcliffe at 1 p.m. EDT on Field 2 and Penn State-Beaver at 5 EDT on Field 1.
After pool play is completed tonight, seedings will be determined for Saturday’s double-elimination tournament, which is slated to crown a champion after its 8 p.m. game.
Last season, the Pomeroys lost to Robert Morris-Springfield 7-1 in the title matchup. That was their fifth game of the day.
The Woods previously earned the USCAA softball championship in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 under then-coach Mandy Neal.
Rodgers, the former Olney Central College coach who was hired to replace Neal before this season, thinks his team will be one of the top contenders this weekend.
“If the kids continue to play like they have in the last eight or 10 games, we definitely have the opportunity to win the championship,” he said, adding that Robert Morris-Springfield should be tough to beat again.
“It seems like our hitting, defense and pitching are coming together,” noted SMWC junior Jessica Ketner, the starting shortstop and a Terre Haute native. “I think we can take it.”
“I think we’ve got a pretty good chance [to win the championship],” added Jessica’s older sister, Erica Ketner, a senior third baseman/catcher. “For the most part, we’ve played pretty well lately. I feel like we’re hitting our peak just in time.”
Junior Ashley Loomis, a former Riverton Parke High School standout, leads The Woods in several categories. She’s batting .515 with nine home runs and 36 runs batted in and she owns a 10-1 pitching record with a 1.42 earned-run average.
Today at Mattoon, Ill.
(All times EDT)
11 a.m. — Briarcliffe vs. Penn State-Beaver (Field 1)
11 — St. Joseph’s vs. Judson (Field 2)
1 p.m. — Robert Morris-Springfield vs. Judson (Field 1)
1 — St. Mary-of-the-Woods vs. Briarcliffe (Field 2)
5 — St. Mary-of-the-Woods vs. Penn State-Beaver (Field 1)
7 — Robert Morris-Springfield vs. St. Joseph’s (Field 1)