BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh entered Saturday needing just one win to claim its third consecutive Patriot League championship, but Army had other ideas. Army pitcher Morgan Lashley threw a pair of shutouts as the Black Knights stunned the Mountain Hawks 4-0 and 5-0 at Kaufman Field to claim their first title since 2002.
Army tallied nine runs on 21 hits in the two games while Lashley limited Lehigh to one hit in Saturday’s first game and just two in the second. The Black Knights improve to 35-24 as they win their fifth tournament title and will advance to the NCAA Regional tournament for the third time.
Lehigh was the designated visiting team in Saturday’s first game and senior Rosie Roessel led off the game with an infield single, but it would be the only hit allowed by Lashley in game one. A walk to freshman Morgan Decker put runners on first and second for Lehigh, but Lashley got senior Liz Lucas to fly out to left and then struck out sophomore Cassie Waggy to end the threat.
Army third baseman Casey McCravey gave the Black Knights the early lead with a solo home run to center off senior Becca Bliss in the bottom of the first. The Black Knights added two more runs in the third on four singles, as Christian McKone plated a run with an infield single and McCravey singled through the left side.
Five Black Knights recorded two hits in the opener: McKone, McCravey, Amanda Nguyen, Marina Northup and Bernadette Cardon. Cardon capped the scoring for the Black Knights with an RBI single in the sixth inning.
Lashley took care of the rest for Army, allowing just two walks the rest of the way to complete the one-hit shutout. She walked three and struck out four for her 28th win of the season.
Bliss suffered her first loss to a Patriot League opponent since April 2011, a string of 27 straight decisions won, as she allowed four runs on 11 hits. She struck out three and did not walk a batter as she finished her senior season at 20-7.
In the tournament’s seventh and deciding game, Army continued to seize the momentum as the Black Knights jumped on Lehigh for five runs in the top of the first, which proved to be the only five runs of the game.
The Black Knights put runners on first and second as Nguyen reached on an error and McKone singled to shortstop. With one out, Alex Reynolds singled through the right side to give Army a 1-0 lead. Rae Anne Payleitner then followed with a three-run home run to left to extend the lead to 4-0. April Ortenzo then singled through the left side and Northup followed with an RBI double to left off sophomore Emily Bausher to cap the five-run frame.
Lehigh’s only two hits in game two came in the bottom of the first on consecutive two out singles by Decker and Lucas, but Lashley got Waggy to pop out to end the inning. Lashley went on to retire the next 18 Mountain Hawks she faced before walking Waggy with two outs in the seventh. Down to its final out, Lehigh was unable to muster a comeback as Lashley got Bausher to ground out to Reynolds at second base to end the game.
Lashley struck out two and walked one in her two-hit shutout. She improved to 29-12 and was named Patriot League Tournament MVP going 4-1 with the two Saturday shutouts in Army’s five games.
Bausher pitched in and out of trouble throughout game two and allowed five runs (four earned) in seven innings. She walked one and struck out four as she falls to 15-7.
Bliss, Decker and Lucas were named to the All-Tournament Team for Lehigh, as the Mountain Hawks end their season at 37-16-1. Lehigh loses five seniors to graduation, including Bliss who is tied for second in school history with 65 wins (65-30) and Lucas, who holds Lehigh’s career home run record with 25 and is tied for the Patriot League’s career RBI record at 165.