Siena's most successful softball season ever came to an abrupt end Friday with two losses in the MAAC Championships, the last a 3-0 setback at the hands of second-seeded Fairfield. Rae Bell tossed a complete game four-hit shutout for the Stags, who advance to play another elimination game against Niagara later today with the victor moving on to Saturday's Championship Round.
"We had an outstanding season," MAAC Coach of the Year Bill Lajeunesse said after the Saints were eliminated. "We're not going to take anything away from what we've done. (It's the) first time in program history that we won any kind of championship."
The Saints won a share of the MAAC regular-season title and earned the number one seed in the Championships after winning 12 of their last 14 league games with the only two losses coming by a single run.
The team's first MAAC Tournament appearance in a decade didn't provide a story book ending.
After rallying to tie Niagara on Jessika - Jo Sandrini's RBI single in the sixth inning in the conclusion of a suspended first round game this morning, the Purple Eagles scored three teams in the seventh to post a 6-3 win, sending the Saints to the loser's bracket.
Siena hit .299 as a team this season and averaged 5.7 runs per game, but their big bats went silent against the Stags.
Seniors Mandy Ferro and Jones had three of the team's four hits in the Fairfield loss, and despite a strong performance in the circle from Sandrini, the Saints were never able to mount a serious threat after putting two runners on in the third.
"We still had a great season, and we have to keep our heads up," Jones, who broke nearly every major offensive record at Siena said. "Yeah, it stinks that we lost, but we had one of the greatest seasons in Siena softball history and nothing takes that away from us."
Fairfield scored single runs in the second, third and sixth innings. Brianna Levick's first home run of the season accounted for the second run of the game.
Despite the key losses of Jones and Ferro, the future of Siena softball looks bright.
"They can do whatever they set their minds to," Jones said of her teammates. "We had a heck of a season, and we only have two seniors, so they can come back and do the same thing next year."
But after this game, there was time to reflect too.
"It's been the time of my life," Jones said. "I've lived the dream every day for four years, so to see it come to an end is a little upsetting, but I'm ready for the next chapter in my life to start. It's been a great four years."