2004 Red Storm Softball Review|
Despite falling short of their goal by one game, the 2004 St. John's softball season was filled of many memorable moments. Playing a schedule that included seven NCAA Tournament teams, the Red Storm finished with a 28-26 record and 10-10 mark in the BIG EAST. Offensively, they broke almost every major team and individual single-season record, while in the circle, they were led by Courtney Fitzgerald and a supporting staff that tossed two no-hitters. The season ended with many postseason awards, highlighted by Christina Tucker being named BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, along with four student-athletes selected on the All-BIG EAST teams and three being named to the NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region First Team.
The St. John's bats opened up the season red-hot, as they won their first four games of the season at the Seahawk Classic, hosted by UNC-Wilmington, before falling in the championship game. Over the five-game tournament, the Red Storm outscored their opponents, 55-8. For her efforts during the Classic, sophomore Jo Sherlock earned Co-BIG EAST Player of the Week honors, along with being named to the all-tournament team. Over the five games, she hit .632 (12-for-19) with five doubles, 13 runs scored and 13 RBI.
After the Seahawk Classic, the Red Storm headed down to Florida for their spring break. At first, St. John's struggled dropping their first five games, including losing three games in their opponent's last at bat. However, freshman Brittany Crouch highlighted their spring break trip, tossing a no-hitter against Connecticut in the first game of the Seminole Challenge. In the game, she struck out nine, allowing only two base runners on two errors. After beating Rhode Island and losing to Penn State, St. John's took on two of the top-10 teams in the country. Against No. 4 Florida State, the Red Storm jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after two innings and held a 4-3 lead going into the top of the sixth inning. However, the Seminoles broke through for four runs in the sixth to take the game, 7-4. Next, St. John's took on No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette, who they fell behind to 2-0 after the first inning. Both pitching staffs would hold the batters in check the rest of the game, as ULL held on for the 2-1 win.
Once they returned home after the Winthrop Invitational, the Red Storm began a stretch where they won nine of 11 games. Before beginning BIG EAST play at Providence, the Red Storm opened up their home schedule by taking three of four from Fairfield and Siena. After splitting at Providence, St. John's won five straight games, including a sweep of eventual BIG EAST Tournament Champion Seton Hall and a 14-3 win at Virginia Tech. During the sweep of Seton Hall, Fitzgerald picked up a win and a save, going 10 1/3 innings allowing only one earned run. Again St. John's saw another downswing, losing five BIG EAST games in a row, beginning with a loss to Virginia Tech in the second game and compounding by being swept at Pittsburgh and Connecticut. The losing streak was snapped as the Red Storm pounded Boston College, 10-0, in the first game of a doubleheader, which they split.
The Red Storm closed out the rest of the season with a ten-game home stand at Red Storm Field. The home stand began with a five-game winning streak, including four straight shutouts against Sacred Heart and Villanova. After taking the first game vs. Sacred Heart, 6-0, freshman Kimberly Lerch followed with St. John's second no-hitter of the season as they downed the Pioneers, 10-0 in five innings. Lerch allowed only two base runners on the afternoon, while striking out six batters. Fitzgerald continued the scoreless streak by tossing back-to-back shutouts against Villanova, 3-0 and 1-0. She was dominant over the two games, as she allowed only seven hits, walked none and struck out 17 in her 14 innings of work. The Red Storm continued their winning ways as they took the first game vs. Rutgers, 5-3, however, the streak would end as they fell 2-0 in 11 innings in game two. For her success during this week, Fitzgerald was named both Co-BIG EAST and ECAC Pitcher of the Week, going 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA. In tossing four complete games, she allowed only 15 hits, while striking out 35 in 29 innings of work.
The final weekend loomed large for the Red Storm, as they needed three wins to clinch a BIG EAST Tournament berth. The weekend started off on the right path as they swept Syracuse on Saturday, 4-3 and 4-1. In game one, St. John's scored two runs in both the sixth and seventh, to overcome a 3-0 deficit for the important win. However, the Red Storm was swept by No. 24 Notre Dame on Sunday, 8-1 and 3-0, to end their season. On the day, St. John's honored Fitzgerald, their lone senior, wrapping up a memorable career for the Red Storm.
Although this year's team fell one game short of the BIG EAST Tournament, they will be remembered as one of the best offensive teams in St. John's history. As a team, they broke St. John's single-season records in batting average, hits, runs, home runs, doubles, walks and RBI, while individually eight more single-season marks were tied or broken. Jo Sherlock cemented her name in the St. John's record book by setting the school's all-time home run mark of 19 after only two seasons, while also breaking single-season records in hits, runs, doubles, slugging percentage and RBI, which she shares with teammate Allina Sainz. Sainz also set the school mark in walks with 22, while Tami Hill's 19 sacrifices and Christina Tucker's 13 home runs also are new St. John's single season highs.
The Red Storm was also represented among the leaders both nationally and in the BIG EAST. As a team, they were eighth in the nation in doubles per game, while also placing 20th in home runs per game and 31st in slugging percentage. Individually, Sherlock, Tucker and Hill placed in the top-25 in many categories, as Sherlock was in the top-25 in runs, doubles and slugging percentage, while Tucker was 24th in home runs per game and Hill was sixth in sacrifice bunts per game. In the conference, St. John's was second in home runs and slugging percentage, third in batting average and fourth in on-base percentage. Sherlock led the BIG EAST in runs, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, while also placing in the top-10 in five other categories. Three other players also placed among the top-10 in offensive categories, with Tucker in six categories, Sainz in five and Megan Oliver in two.
Not to be forgotten with their gaudy offensive statistics was the pitching of Fitzgerald. She went 17-5 on the season, posting a 1.55 ERA and .197 opponents batting average, while striking out 147 batters in 143 innings. Fitzgerald flourished in BIG EAST play, as she led the league in wins, strikeouts, appearances, and complete games, while also placing second in innings pitched and third in shutouts. This season wrapped up Fitzgerald's career at St. John's, as she leaves the Red Storm as the all-time career leader in wins, innings, games started and shutouts.
The Red Storm reached new heights when it came to postseason awards this season, as they took home the most honors in the program's 23-year history. Christina Tucker highlighted the accomplishments being named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, as she became the first St. John's softball player to win a major conference award. In addition, she was named First Team All-BIG EAST and NFCA All-Mid Atlantic Region First Team, joining Fitzgerald and Sherlock. Also receiving postseason honors was Fitzgerald and Sainz, who were second team all-conference, Jillian Sandoval, a third team BIG EAST selection and Meghan Allman, a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-District I Second Team.