ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS —
Eight times, St. Mary-of-the-Woods has captured some form of a national championship in softball.
But 2011 was not one of those times.
This past weekend at Akron, Ohio, coach Gary Rodgers’ Pomeroys competed in the eight-team U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national tournament.
They defeated Judson (Ala.) College 5-1 Friday, beat Penn State Mont Alto 5-2 and lost to Judson 3-2 Saturday, then knocked off Judson 6-2 before losing the two-out-of-three championship series in two games to Rochester (Mich.) College by scores of 3-0 and 8-6 Sunday.
They finished second, just as they did in 2010 and 2006.
“We played our usual game up until the championship series,” Rodgers assessed after the team returned to Terre Haute. “Those last two games, we did not play St. Mary-of-the-Woods softball. We made some baserunning mistakes and we made some fielding errors that we don’t normally make… We outhit them both games. We had 13 hits just in the last game [against Rochester].”
Rodgers isn’t shy about saying he thinks The Woods would defeat Rochester “four out of five times” in most situations, but obviously this past weekend was not one of those situations.
Although the Pomeroys did not win the national title this year, they did leave with several individual honors.
Named USCAA All-Americans were sophomore Kelsey Rosselli of Terre Haute, juniors Sara Goelz (who pitched almost the entire tournament over the weekend) and Jessica Jonas and senior Chelsee Gerber of Clay City. Named USCAA Academic All-Americans were Rosselli, juniors Goelz, Leah Miller and Libby Wright and sophomores Jennie Faker and Ashtynn Masterson.
Rodgers said he’ll miss the four graduating seniors — Gerber, former Shakamak High School player Chelsea Baker, Aubrey Stich and Katelyn Tillotson — but he’s hoping to add more Wabash Valley talent to go with Rosselli next season.
Rosselli ended up leading the team with a .377 batting average, 26 runs, 46 hits and 10 doubles, while Jonas was tops in home runs (three) and runs batted in (23).
Rosselli, a former Terre Haute North standout, usually batted lead-off, but her defensive skills are worth mentioning as well.
“She’s a mainstay for us out there in center field,” Rodgers said. “She covers the gaps well, she gets a good jump on the ball and she has a nice, strong arm.”
As for the Pomeroys’ 17-22 record in 2011, Rodgers said he’s to blame for it.
“I really got us into a competitive schedule,” he explained. “We played eight ranked NAIA teams and we played one ranked [NCAA] Division II team in Spalding University. If we would have stayed at our level, we definitely would have had a better record.”
“Overall, I thought we had a really good season,” Gerber said from a player’s perspective. “We played some really good teams, but that prepared us for the national tournament… Second place isn’t what we wanted in Akron, but second in a national tournament isn’t bad at all.”
“I felt like this year we kinda struggled a little bit trying to get our team together at the beginning of the season,” Rosselli added. “That showed in our games a little bit. But we did a lot of talking about it during the season and we got better. Once nationals came, we buckled down and we worked as a team.
“I’m really looking forward to next year. When we first start out, we’re going to have a little bit more of a stable lineup.”
For the record, The Woods won national championships in softball in 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000 and 1997.