AMHERST, Mass. - Despite falling behind 3-0 early, Saint Joseph's rallied to take a lead in the fourth inning and got a stellar performance in the circle by freshman Liz Mendez as the Hawks topped Saint Louis, 4-3, at the Atlantic 10 Softball Championship Thursday afternoon at Sortino Field.
With the win, the Hawks (35-8-1) will now face Fordham at 10 a.m. on Friday in the winner's bracket game.
Saint Louis took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a solo home run to centerfield by Lindsay Friedman.
The Hawks would load the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but failed to score as a runner's interference prevented a tying run, and Saint Louis induced a ground out to end the inning.
Saint Louis added to its lead in the top of the third on a two-run double by Laura Bohning with two outs, chasing SJU starter Taryn Ashway. Mendez would come in and get the Hawks out of trouble with one pitch.
Down by two, junior Maria Ficca led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left field to make it 3-2. Dana Parks followed with a single and following a stolen base and an out, Nicole Palase delivered a triple to the gap between right and center fields that plated Parks to make it 3-3. Redshirt senior Monica Aguilar would put the Hawks up 4-3 in the next at-bat, singling to left and allowing Palase to score.
Holding to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, Saint Joseph's quickly found itself in trouble as the Billikens loaded the bases with no outs. Showing no signs that this was her first postseason game, Mendez got a strike out and induced a foul out to the next Saint Louis Batter. With the game on the line, Mendez caught the next batter looking for strike three to preserve the win.
Mendez, who threw 4.1 innings, improved to 9-5 on the year with the win. She allowed just two hits, no runs and struck out seven.