After Tori Finucane threw the final pitch of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game Saturday, the O’Connell junior watched expectantly as Knights shortstop Shannon Murphy touched second base to record the last out on a fielder’s choice, then waited as Murphy came leaping into her arms.
If Finucane couldn’t get the last out of the game herself, it was still only right for the fireballer to be at the center of the championship celebration.
Even on what Finucane and O’Connell Coach Tommy Orndorff said was not Finucane’s best day, the Missouri recruit pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking three as No. 2 O’Connell beat Elizabeth Seton, 5-0, at Robert E. Taylor Stadium at the University of Maryland.
The win gives O’Connell its ninth consecutive WCAC tournament championship and its 16th in the past 19 years.
“We have banners in our gym and Tommy reminds us all the time that we don’t want to be the year missing from the banner,” junior catcher Jillian Ferraro said. “We don’t want to be the team that isn’t on there.”
Finucane entered Saturday having allowed only two earned runs in 136 innings pitched this season, so the Knights (24-1) knew if they could scratch across a couple runs against Seton ace Mary Ann Moore, it would be tough for the Roadrunners (20-9) to come back.
After Finucane pitched around a leadoff single in the top of the first inning, O’Connell jumped on Moore in the bottom of the first, scoring on consecutive RBI singles by sophomore second baseman Amanda Ehlers and senior leftfielder Emily Simon to take a quick 2-0 lead.
“I felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Finucane said. “We always want to score early and when we do it helps us gain momentum.”
Only one Elizabeth Seton runner reached second base over the final six innings, as Finucane kept the Roadrunner lineup in check with a versatile arsenal of pitches that includes an overpowering fastball and equally tough riseball.
“Tori pitched a great game for them,” Moore said. “We came out hoping to beat them, but she’s tough.”
O’Connell added three more runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI double by Simon and a two-run single by junior first baseman Mary Burk, giving Finucane more than enough insurance to nail down the win.
Finucane has now thrown 13 straight shutouts during O’Connell’s 13-game winning streak, and has 296 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched.
“I’ve done this for 27 years at O’Connell,” Orndorff said. “She’s as good as anybody I’ve had.”