Gulls advance to NCAA Regional Championship

Endicott sets school record with 41st win

Sophomore Maria Mangine shutout the Cardinals for the second time in as many days to lift Endicott into the NCAA Regional Championship game

May 10, 2008

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - The Endicott College softball team advanced to the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament Finals with a 3-0 victory over St. John Fisher Saturday at Cardinal Park in Plattsburgh, N.Y. After losing earlier in the day to Cortland State in the winner's bracket finals, the Gulls bounced back to defeat St. John Fisher in the loser's bracket finals, sending them into the championship game and breaking the school record for wins with 41.

In the first contest of the day second-seeded Endicott faced-off against third-seeded Cortland State in the winner's bracket finals.

The Gulls threatened in the top of the second, getting consecutive singles from sophomore Maria Mangine (Lockport, N.Y.) and third baseman Merry MacDonald (Braintree, Mass.) with just one out in the inning. As she would do throughout the game, Cortland starter Katie Finch (Amsterdam, N.Y.) quickly thwarted the rally with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

Endicott got it going again in the top of the fourth with a lead-off single by catcher Meghan Sargent (Salisbury, Mass.) through the left side. Casey Shanley (Billerica, Mass.), pinch-hitting for Mangine, followed with a push bunt single past the drawn in infield, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. After a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Merry MacDonald moved both runners into scoring position, Finch got the next batter on strikes, bringing right fielder Megan Downey (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) to the plate with two down. Downey slapped a grounder to the left side which was bobbled by the Cortland infield. The slight hesitation was all Downey needed as she beat out the throw, allowing Meghan Sargent to score with the game's first run.

Endicott senior Jenn Elwell (Tewksbury, Mass.) took a no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth inning when the Red Dragon bats eventually came alive. After a single by senior Amanda Barnett (Syracuse, N.Y.) and a double by left fielder Annemarie Nelson (Nassau, N.Y.) to deep left center field, sophomore Emily Ringen (Pompton Plains, N.J.) came to bat with a chance to give Cortland the lead. She delivered with a bloop single to right field scoring both runners and giving the Red Dragons a 2-1 advantage. Senior Shara Evanter (Commack, N.Y.) followed with the fourth-straight hit of the inning, roping a line drive to left, putting runners on the corners with still no outs. Cortland would score another run before the inning was over on an RBI groundout by junior Bethany Williamson (Lyons Falls, N.Y.) to increase the lead to 3-1.

After surrendering hits to the first two Cortland hitters in the fifth, Elwell was lifted in favor of junior Jackie Collier (Swampscott, Mass.). With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Evanter smacked a line drive to the left side. Shortstop Jenna Lazar (Milton, Mass.) ranged to her right making an outstanding leaping snow cone catch to end the inning, saving two runs in the process.

The Red Dragons kept the pressure on in the sixth. Bethany Williamson led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Freshman Rose Morrison (Miller Place, N.Y.) came in to pinch-run for Willaimson and immediately moved to third on a wild pitch. Junior Kim Whitman (Victor, N.Y.) then delivered a clutch two-out RBI single through the left side, putting Cortland up 4-1 going in to the final frame.

Pinch-hitter Dottie Bartsch (Salisbury, Mass.) gave the Gulls some life in the seventh, leading off with a double down the right field line and moving to third on a throwing error. That would be all Endicott would be able to muster against Finch who set the next three batters down in order to give the Red Dragon's a 4-1 victory.

Jenn Elwell took the loss for the Gulls falling to 15-4 on the year. She surrendered three runs on six over four innings of work. Offensively, Endicott was paced by sophomore Merry MacDonald who was 2-2 including a double.

Sophomore Katie Finch pitched wonderfully in earning her 20th win of the season. She gave up just one unearned run on six hits, while striking out nine Endicott hitters over seven innings. Sophomore Emily Ringen led the Red Dragon's offense going 1-2 with a walk, a run scored, and two RBI. Right fielder Kim Whitman also chipped in two hits in three at-bats with an RBI in the win.

The loss sent Endicott into the loser's bracket finals against St. John Fisher, who the Gulls had beaten earlier in the tournament by the score of 5-0. The two teams were playing for the opportunity to face Cortland State in the regional championship.

Lead-off hitter Jenna Lazar got things started for the Gulls in the first, reaching on a St. John Fisher throwing error. After moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by left fielder Danielle Sargent, Lazar came around with the game's first run on a rope to center field by senior Rachel Pearson (Gales Ferry, Conn.).

The Gulls kept the bats going in the second, as Merry MacDonald led off the inning reaching on a two-base error. Sara Spaziano (Norton, Mass.) followed with a single to left, setting up a first and third situation for junior Casey Shanley with nobody out. Shanley came through with a push-bunt RBI single to the left side scoring Lazar and putting Endicott ahead, 2-0.

In the bottom half of the inning Cardinal second baseman Kelly Hausler (Niskayuna, N.Y.) came up to bat with two down and a runner on second. She stroked a shot to deep right centerfield that looked like a sure extra-base hit. Out of nowhere, senior Paula McGinn made a brilliant leaping grab to end the inning.

Endicott's strong defensive play continued in the bottom of the third when shortstop Jenna Lazar ranged deep into the whole, throwing accurately across the diamond to take a hit away from Cardinal sophomore Meghan Graves (Fort Ann, N.Y.).

Endicott added a much-needed insurance run in the top of the sixth when third baseman Merry MacDonald blasted a solo shot to dead center field through the tough wind.

Gulls' starter Maria Mangine retired the last seven hitters in a row to nail down the 3-0 win. Mangine, who is now 15-1 on the season, was dominating while shutting out the Cardinals for the second time in as many days. She surrendered just three hits over seven innings without walking a single batter.

Sophomore Merry MacDonald once again led the Gulls' offensive attack, going 1-3 with a home run, two runs scored, and an RBI. Second baseman Sara Spaziano also had a good day at the plate going 2-3.

Junior Amanda Shevchuck (Manlius, N.Y.) lost to Endicott for the second straight day, dropping her overall record to 16-14. She pitched well, surrendering three runs, only one earned, on six hits over seven innings of work.

The loss eliminates the Cardinals from the tournament and drops their record to 26-21. In earning their 41st victory, Endicott set a record for the most wins by any team in school history. They are now 41-5 on the year and will face-off against Cortland State in the NCAA Division III Regional Championship on Sunday at Cardinal Park in Plattsburgh, N.Y. In order to win the championship the Gulls with have to beat the Red Dragons twice, as they have yet to lose a game in this double-elimination tournament. Game one will be scheduled for 12:00 p.m., with game two being slotted for 2:00 p.m. if necessary.

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