Fernandez, Bliss honored as Lehigh clinches regular season title
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh softball team clinched its 17th Patriot League regular season title with two wins over Army on Sunday. On Monday, two Mountain Hawks were recognized for their efforts with Patriot League weekly awards as senior Julie Fernandez was named Player of the Week and junior Rebecca Bliss was named Pitcher of the Week.
Fernandez earned her first weekly award this season and the second of her career as she batted .500 (8-for-16) with nine RBI in six games last week as Lehigh swept a doubleheader from Colgate and then won three-of-four games from Army to clinch the title. She went 6-for-9 in the final three games of the Army series as Lehigh rebounded from a loss in the series opener to win the final three games. Fernandez also had the most important hit of the weekend, a two-out solo home run off the scoreboard in left field in the top of the seventh of Sunday’s first game, which went on to become the go-ahead run in Lehigh’s regular season title-clinching 3-2 win.
The Moorpark, California native had four two-RBI games of the six played last week. With three doubles, Fernandez tied the Lehigh and Patriot League single season mark of 21, set last year by teammate Liz Lucas. Fernandez also had two hits in Sunday’s series finale at Army, giving her 257 for her career, tying her with Stephanie Digneo ’03 for the Lehigh and Patriot League career hit record.
For the season, Fernandez is now batting a league-best .445 with 69 hits, 21 doubles, four home runs and 45 RBI. She also ranks in the top ten nationally in batting average.
Bliss picked up her second Pitcher of the Week award this season and the fourth of her career by not allowing an earned run in 20 innings of work last week while picking up three wins and a save in the circle. Bliss’ week began with a five-inning two-hit shutout as Lehigh blanked Colgate 8-0 in the finale of that series. On Saturday, she limited Army to two hits in a seven inning complete game effort en route to her eighth shutout of the season as Lehigh posted a 6-0 win. Bliss pitched in both games on Sunday, allowing two unearned runs while earning her team-leading 17th win of the season in game one of the doubleheader, and then pitching a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to nail down her second save of the year in the nightcap. The Escondido, California native allowed just nine hits and two walks in 20 innings while striking out ten.
This season, Bliss owns a 17-6 record and has lowered her ERA under 2.00 to 1.86. She has eight shutouts and has walked just 24 while striking out 79 in 152 innings of work. Bliss was 10-0 with a 0.57 ERA and one save in 11 Patriot League appearances this season.
The Mountain Hawks will be off this week for final exams but will host the Patriot League Tournament at Kaufman Field May 10-12. Lehigh, the No. 1 seed will open tournament action against No. 4 seed and arch rival Lafayette on Thursday, May 10.