HAMILTON, N.Y. – In one of its most impressive performances of the season, Lehigh blasted Colgate 9-0 in five innings Friday afternoon to move into the championship round of the Patriot League Tournament. Junior Jen Colquhoun homered and drove in five runs while sophomore Becca Bliss fired a two-hit shutout to lead the Mountain Hawks within one win of the Patriot League Championship.
With the win, Lehigh moves to 32-21 overall and goes directly into Saturday’s championship round. The Mountain Hawks will need just one win on Saturday to win their sixth Patriot League Tournament title in eight years.
“We honestly could not have played much better,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “Our coaching staff did a great job of game-planning. We did a good job of preparing for their pitchers. We haven’t done anything yet in terms of winning the championship, but it was one of the most impressive performances in Lehigh softball history.”
Lehigh, the designated home team on Friday, struck first with an unearned run in the bottom of the first off Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Rachel LeCoq. Junior Audra Wood led the game off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. With one out, Colgate’s Jennifer Ortega booted a ground ball of the bat of Liz Lucas allowing Wood to score the first run of the game.
Held without a hit through the first two winnings, Lehigh’s bats came to life in a big way in the third. Wood led off with a single through the left side and moved to third on a double by senior Alex Cueva. Junior Julie Fernandez was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Lucas, who lined a single to right, scoring Wood to give Lehigh a 2-0 lead. Colquhoun then grounded a two-run single up the middle that gave Lehigh a four run advantage and chased LeCoq from the game.
Courtney O’Connell relieved LeCoq and senior Carly Potock greeted her with a double to right center that scored Lucas to put the Mountain Hawks up by five.
Lehigh blew the game wide open with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Wood was once again the catalyst, as she led off with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, Fernandez singled Wood home with Lehigh’s sixth run. A single by Lucas put runners on first and second for Colquhoun, who drilled a three-run home run, her third of the season, to put the Mountain Hawks in front by nine.
Bliss took care of the rest for Lehigh, retiring the first two batters in the fifth. Haley Fleming kept the game going for Colgate when she reached on an error, but Lucas picked her off first base to end the game. Bliss allowed just three base runners on a walk and two singles, the first of which was erased by a nifty 6-4-3 double play started by Colquhoun. The sophomore right-hander finished with one strikeout en route to her third shutout of the season, as she improves to 15-6 on the year.
LeCoq (17-8) took the loss for Colgate allowing five runs on four hits in two-plus innings of work. Colgate drops to 26-20 with the setback.
Lehigh had nine hits in the game, with the top five of Wood, Cueva, Fernandez, Lucas and Colquhoun combining to go 8-for-10 with seven RBI.
“We just had a good approach,” Troyan said of Lehigh’s offensive success. “We don’t know who will come out of the other side of the bracket, but we think our team is in a pretty good spot.”
The Mountain Hawks enter Saturday’s championship round need just one win to capture their 11th Patriot League Championship. Lehigh will face Colgate, who eliminated Army 6-0 in Friday’s final game; Saturday at noon with a second, if-necessary game to follow at 2:30 p.m. Saturday’s action will be broadcast online at Lehighsports.com with pregame coverage beginning at 11:45 a.m.