TERRE HAUTE —
The St. Mary-of-the-Woods softball program is no stranger to national tournaments.
The Pomeroys claimed some form of a national championship in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, the last several sanctioned by the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
This weekend, The Woods will try to make up for finishing third in the 2009 USCAA tournament when it competes in the 2010 version at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
Seeded No. 2 in the eight-team tourney, the Pomeroys will rely heavily on Wabash Valley-developed talent — senior center fielder Amanda McGlone of Robinson, Ill.; freshman left fielder Kelsey Rosselli, a former Terre Haute North High School standout; junior right fielder Chelsee Gerber of Clay City; and junior catcher Chelsea Baker, who formerly played for Shakamak.
“We’ve been very pleased with the contributions we’ve got from these four kids,” Woods coach Gary Rodgers told the Tribune-Star. “They’ve come from good, strong programs and they’ve come in and been able to contribute right away.”
“We’re really happy with what these kids have done for us,” Rodgers continued. “We’re looking to get more kids from the [Wabash Valley] area at St. Mary-of-the-Woods in the future.”
Rosselli, hitting .344, often leads off for the Pomeroys. Usually following her in the lineup are Gerber (.284) and junior pitcher/second baseman/first baseman Aubrey Stich (.313). Then clean-up batter Sara Goelz — a sophomore pitcher/first baseman with a .382 average, eight homers, 43 runs batted in and 12 doubles — comes up to strike fear into opponents.
Also, sophomore third baseman Libby Wright (.330, three homers) has been a dependable No. 5 hitter.
McGlone and starting shortstop Sarah Matthews are the team’s only seniors.
“They’re probably my first two recruits at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College,” said Rodgers, wrapping up his fourth season with the Pomeroys. “I’ve been real happy with the leadership they’ve shown to me and to the team.”
The Woods (30-23) will begin pool play in the USCAA tourney Saturday with a 2 p.m. game against Southern State Community College (Ohio). Weather permitting, the seventh-place, fifth-place, third-place and championship games will take place Monday.
Seeded No. 1 is Robert Morris-Springfield, which Rodgers described as a solid team.
“Our two teams are just about alike,” he elaborated. “If it comes down to us and them, it’s going to be a real good ballgame. I think we can go a little deeper in our pitching rotation. I think they have maybe a little more speed, but we have better hitting.”
Top pitchers for the Pomeroys are the right-handed Goelz (16-5 with a 1.64 earned-run average), Stich (9-5, 2.25) and freshman Jennie Faker (6-9).
“I think we’ve played good competition all year long,” Rodgers continued. “I think we’ve played a little inconsistently. We’re looking for some consistent play. We’ve played some good teams very tough and honesty we’ve got the capability of doing a very good job in this national tournament. We’ve hit the ball well all year long, but sometimes our defense has been suspect.
“We’ve got the personnel to make a very good run [this weekend]. We’re kind of young with only two seniors, but our leadership is strong.”
McGlone agreed with her coach.
“I think, since we’re such a young team, that we have done well,” she noted. “We work together and we’ve come from behind several times. And I think we have a great shot at winning nationals.”
Making matters more difficult for the Pomeroys was this being academic finals week at the college, although their players were scheduled to take their final finals Thursday.
“It’s been hard for them to focus, athletically,” Rodgers admitted. “And I understand that. Academics is the most important part of their education here. Now that that’s done, we’re going to get on with the business of softball.”
“Everybody’s done with [finals] now,” McGlone pointed out. “Now that they’re over, everyone should be relieved and focused on ball and winning these games.”
In addition to Robert Morris-Springfield and Southern State Community College, also participating in the USCAA tourney will be Southern Virginia, St. Joseph’s (N.Y.), Penn State Beaver, Penn State Hazelton and Briar Cliff College.