Monday, May 22, 2006
By Mike Ballard
RAPTOR OF THE WEEK
The Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptors completed a 7-0 run through the 2006 NCAA Division III Softball Championship on May 22, posting a 3-2 victory over two-time defending champion St. Thomas to capture the first national title in school history.
SOFTBALL (47-5 overall/18-0 NJAC)
NCAA Division III Softball Championship (Peace College, Raleigh, NC)
Friday, May 19
Saturday, May 20
Sunday, May 21
Monday, May 22
(RUTGERS-CAMDEN WINS DIV. III NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP)
When Rutgers-Camden softball coach Carl Taylor posed his 2006 Scarlet Raptors for their team picture, he used the school’s Hall of Fame wall as a backdrop and requested the slogan “A Team to Remember” be inserted under that photo on the media guide cover.
Taylor had no idea how prophetic he would be.
The 2006 softball team not only proved to be “A Team to Remember,” but it became the most memorable team in the history of Rutgers-Camden after completing a spectacular season with the first national championship in school history.
The Raptors won the 2006 NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 22 by edging the two-time defending champion University of St. Thomas (Minn.), 3-2.
The Scarlet Raptors, who completed their season at 47-5, went 4-0 at the national championships, including a pair of wins over St. Thomas. The Tommies, who closed their season with a 48-4 record, had entered the national tournament as the top-ranked team in the country. They emerged from the losers’ bracket earlier in the day by edging No. 2-ranked Muskingum, 5-1, on a 10th-inning walkoff grand slam by Nikki Conway.
Rutgers-Camden, which entered the championships ranked No. 3 in the country, won 37 of its final 38 games en route to its national title. Included in that run was a school-record 29-game winning streak from March 25-May 6 which started, ironically, after a one-run loss to St. Thomas out in California.
In the championship game, Rutgers-Camden broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh inning when sophomore second baseman Jayme Feriod (Glassboro, NJ/Glassboro) reached base on a one-out infield single. Junior shortstop Alaina Giles (Willingboro, NJ/Holy Cross) followed with an infield grounder, but the throw to force Feriod at second was wild, allowing her to score all the way from first base as the ball rolled into the outfield. That was the deciding run in a duel between Scarlet Raptor senior All-American Michelle Schlichtig (Barrington, NJ/Haddon Heights) and St. Thomas ace Maria Bye.
Schlichtig completed her outstanding career with a four-hitter in the title game, allowing two runs (one earned) and two walks. She struck out eight in closing her season with a 32-3 record. During her three years at Rutgers-Camden, the Raptors posted a 118-24-1 record, culminating in the national title.
St. Thomas scored a first-inning run on a one-out solo home run from catcher Nikki Conway. The Raptors tied the game in the top of the fourth on a pair of errors and a two-out RBI double to left field by junior catcher Mo Baney (Deptford, NJ/Deptford), but the Tommies bounced right back. In the bottom of the frame, Bye drew a walk and stole second. Pinch-runner Anne Carpentier replaced Bye and was sacrificed to third. She scored on a single to left field by designated player Janet Nagle.
Trailing, 2-1, the Raptors tied the game in the sixth when sophomore first baseman Kathleen Dreitlein (Berkeley Heights, NJ/Governor Livingston) drew a two-out walk and advanced on a passed ball. She scored on a single down the left field line by junior third baseman Megan Farrell (Medford, NJ/Bishop Eustace Prep).
After the Raptors took the lead in the top of the seventh, the Tommies’ Colleen Owen stroked a one-out single in the bottom of the inning. Owen stole second, but Schlichtig wriggled out of her final jam with a pair of strikeouts to nail down the national championship. She finished her spectacular three-year Rutgers-Camden career with a school-record 906 strikeouts, and the complete game was her 29th of the season, breaking her own mark of 28 set in 2004.
Bye allowed only three hits and three runs (one earned) on the day. She walked two and struck out eight.
Baney collected eight putouts on the day to raise her season total to 398, breaking her own single-season record of 391 set last year.
Rutgers-Camden advanced to the championship game by edging St. Thomas in the winners’ bracket final on May 21, snapping the Tommies’ 29-game post-season winning streak with a 5-4 win. In similar fashion to the championship game, the Raptors had to rally from a first-inning deficit after Conway singled, stole second, advanced on an error and scored on a fielder’s choice by Bye.
Rutgers-Camden bounced back in the bottom of the third to take a 2-1 lead. Giles drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single by freshman center fielder Marissa Van Cleef (Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough). One out later, Schlichtig singled home the tying run. Farrell added an RBI single to give the Raptors the lead.
St. Thomas fought back in the top of the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead after an RBI double by Conway tied the game. Conway scored on a single by Bye.
It didn’t take long for the Raptors to strike back against St. Thomas pitcher Nagle, who lost her first game in 24 post-season decisions. Nagle, who relieved Bye and hurled the fifth inning, opened the frame by walking junior right fielder Autumn Millett (Richwood, NJ/Clearview Regional). Millett advanced as Schlichtig reached on an infield error. One out later, Farrell walked to load the bases. All the runners advanced on an illegal pitch, with Millett scoring the tying run. Following a strikeout, sophomore designated player Amber Parker (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) ripped a two-run single to left field, putting the Raptors ahead to stay, 5-3.
St. Thomas scored its final run in the top of the seventh following a leadoff triple by Conway. Bye singled her home, but Schlichtig wriggled out of the jam with a ground out and a pair of fly outs as the Raptors advanced to the title game.
Schlichtig scattered six hits and three walks while allowing four earned runs. She struck out four.
Nagle, who hurled the one inning in the fifth, took the loss, allowing one hit, two walks and three runs.
Conway went 3-for-3 with three runs and one RBI for the Tommies, while Bye was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
For Rutgers-Camden, Parker went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Rutgers-Camden advanced to its head-to-head showdowns against St. Thomas by knocking off two other strong teams at the national finals. In their first game, the Raptors faced a familiar foe in New Jersey Athletic Conference rival Ramapo College, the only team to beat Rutgers-Camden since that March 18 loss against St. Thomas. The Raptors edged the Roadrunners, 3-1, in the tournament opener May 19. That win gave Rutgers-Camden a 5-1 edge in the season series against the power-hitting Roadrunners.
In their second game, the Lady Raptors blanked Coe College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 5-0, on May 20, behind Schlichtig’s 17th shutout of the season.
In a season which saw huge contributions up and down the lineup, freshman pinch-hitter Heather Taylor (Clementon, NJ/Overbrook) stepped into the limelight in the Lady Raptors’ first game at nationals. Taylor doubled home the tie-breaking runs in a two-run bottom of the sixth inning to lift Rutgers-Camden over Ramapo College, 3-1.
Taylor, who had only 16 at bats during her first season of collegiate ball, pinch-hit for the Scarlet Raptors with the score knotted at 1-1. She laced a double to left field, plating Farrell and Parker. Farrell had opened the inning with a single to center field and Parker drew a one-out walk, setting the stage for Taylor.
Taylor’s double raised her season batting average to .412 (7-for-17). Her seven hits included two doubles and one home run. She scored seven runs and collected seven RBIs.
Taylor’s hit made a winner out of Schlichtig, who tossed a four-hitter, walking three and striking out seven.
Ramapo scored the first run when second baseman Ginny O’Brien hit a leadoff double in the third inning. A pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs, but Schlichtig escaped major damage with only one run scoring. Designated player Becky Pollak poked a shot into right field, but was thrown out at first base on a fine play by Raptor right fielder Millett. One run scored on the play, but Schlichtig collected a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat.
The Raptors tied the game in the bottom of the third when Giles drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on a single by Van Cleef.
After the Raptors defeated the Roadrunners, Coe edged No. 4-ranked Ithaca, 2-1, to set up Rutgers-Camden’s showdown with the Kohawks on May 20. That showdown turned into a showcase for Schlichtig, who collected the final shutout of her brilliant Raptor career, raising her school shutout marks to 17 this season and 40 for her three years at Rutgers-Camden.
Schlichtig hurled a four-hit shutout as the Scarlet Raptors toppled Coe College, 5-0, to remain undefeated in the national tournament. Schlichtig walked three and struck out six.
The Raptors scored the only run they needed in the fourth inning following a leadoff walk to Schlichtig. She advanced on a ground out and an error and scored on an out by Baney.
Rutgers-Camden put the game away with a four-run sixth inning after Millett reached on an error and advanced on a single by Schlichtig. The Raptors loaded the bases with a single by Dreitlein. Two runs scored when Farrell hit a ground ball to shortstop and the throw home was missed by the Kohawks’ catcher, plating both Schlichtig and Millett. Baney followed with a two-run single.
Schlichtig went 2-for-2 at the plate with two runs, giving her 96 total bases on the season. That allowed her to break the single-season mark of 95 total bases she set in 2005. Schlichtig also collected one assist to give her 244 for her career, breaking the old mark of 243 by Celeste Chinappi (2002-05). Chinappi is one of the Lady Raptors’ coaches this season.
Coe left fielder Ashley Wagner collected two of the four hits off Schlichtig.
The win over Coe advanced the Raptors to Sunday’s winners’ bracket final and their first of two straight meetings with St. Thomas, the two-time defending Division III champion. The Tommies advanced by crushing Muskingum, 13-2, in a game ended after five innings by the eight-run mercy rule.
The Raptors established numerous team and individual records during their championship campaign, including team marks for games (52), wins (47) and consecutive wins (29 from March 25-May 6). They also became the first team to capture NJAC regular-season and playoff championships in the same year since 2001, and went 18-0 during their regular-season conference title.
The NCAA tournament appearance marked the third consecutive season the Lady Raptors had played in the national playoffs. Only one other team in Rutgers-Camden history ever reached the NCAA tournament the women’s basketball program in 2003.
Schlichtig set single-season offensive marks for RBIs (45), total bases (97) and hits (59), while establishing pitching records for wins (32), shutouts (17), pitching appearances (40), starts (33), complete games (29), at bats (781), saves (4), consecutive shutouts (6) and an amazing 52 consecutive scoreless innings, tying for the sixth-longest streak in Division III history.
Millett set a record with 47 runs scored, while Van Cleef had a single-season mark of 175 at bats from her leadoff spot in the lineup. Giles reached base six times as a hit batsman, setting another mark, while Farrell delivered four sacrifice flies to set a single-season record and tie for the career program mark.
Defensively, Baney had a phenomenal season. The Raptors’ catcher recorded 398 putouts to pass her old record of 391 set last year. She also compiled a 1.000 fielding percentage in 418 total chances, by far the most chances in program history with a perfect fielding percentage. The old mark was 60 chances by Melanie Pewor in 1981.
Several Lady Raptors barely missed other single-season records. Dreitlein had 15 doubles and Schlichtig had 14, just missing the mark of 16 by Sarah O’Malley in 2001.
Millett and Schlichtig each hit eight home runs, two shy of Becky Johnson’s 2004 school mark.
Millett’s 28 walks missed the school record of 30 by Lisa Wolfe in 1988, and Schlichtig and Farrell each had 88 assists four shy of Schlichtig’s mark of 92 set in 2005. Schlichtig also participated in six double plays, one shy of Dreitlein’s 2005 record.
Schlichtig also tied a single-game record by drawing four walks in one game, during which she fired a perfect game against Keystone College March 25. She had a record four no-hitters this year (two of them perfect games) and seven for her three-year career. She also set a single-game record with 14 consecutive strikeouts during a no-hitter against John Jay March 31.
Schlichtig also finished her career with school pitching records for appearances (107), starts (94), complete games (84), innings (659), wins (82), strikeouts (906), shutouts (40), at bats (2,278), batters faced (2,515), saves (6), hit batsmen (13) and walks (166). She set a defensive record with 249 career assists and offensive marks with 267 total bases and 104 RBIs. She also tied O’Malley’s career record of 39 doubles.
Other career records were set by Millett with 112 runs, 23 home runs, 65 walks and 77 strikeouts. Baney and Farrell tied the career record of four sacrifice flies, which is also held by Johnson (2002-05) and Tara Hrivnak (2001-03).
Baney also extended her career record to 1,178 putouts.
Taylor, meanwhile, won his 200th game on March 25 during Schlichtig’s 11-0 perfect game against New Jersey City University. He raised his career record to 218-115-2 at Rutgers-Camden. He is an amazing 118-24-1 over the last three seasons, capping that run with a national championship.
TRACK AND FIELD
May 15 - Tuppeny Twilight Meet (Villanova University)
NO TEAM SCORES
Rutgers-Camden School Records:
May 18-19 ECAC Championships (Springfield College, Springfield, MA)
The Rutgers-Camden track team had three individuals competing in the Tuppeny Twilight Meet at Villanova University May 15 and one running at the ECAC Championships May 19 in Springfield, Mass.
Track star Travis Stewart (Runnemede, NJ/Triton Regional) continued his outstanding freshman season by setting a program record in the 5,000-meter run while competing at the Tuppeny Twilight Meet. Stewart finished 28th in the event with a time of 16:05.10, lowering his mark of 16:16.49 set at the New Jersey Invitational April 15.
Also competing at the Tuppeny Twilight Meet were women’s senior captain Carmen Zimmitt (Woodstown, NJ/Woodstown) and sophomore Imani Hafiz (Franklinville, NJ/Delsea Regional). Zimmitt finished fourth in the long jump competition with a leap of 5.29. She also placed ninth in the 400-meter dash in 1:00.18 to finish barely ahead of Hafiz, who was 10th at 1:00.67.
Hafiz also finished 12th in the triple jump competition while competing at the ECAC Championships at Springfield (Mass.) College. She posted a jump of 34-2.25, or 10.42 meters, in the ECACs.