Beverly, Mass. -- May 10, 2009 - Coast Guard Academy’s Amanda Frederick (Lebanon, Ohio) hit a pair of homeruns and drove in four to help the Bears defeat Springfield College, 7-3, Sunday afternoon at the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament held on the campus of Endicott College. The Bears improved to 38-6-1 this season and went on to face Tufts University in the Regional Finals later that afternoon. Springfield, the No. 7 seed in the region, wrapped up its Cinderella run in the NCAA Regional with a final record of 23-24 this season. Pride catcher Michelle Wlosek and DP Amanda Novak were named to the Regional All-Tournament Team.
(Tufts, the #1-seed, went on to win the Tournament with a 10-1 victory over #3 seeded Coast Guard, and will represent the New England Regional at the NCAA Division III College World Series in Montclair, N.J. beginning May 15.)
Since Springfield has gone Division III (1995-96), this is the furthest a Springfield College softball team has gone in the NCAA Tournament in six tries. The Pride won three games in this 2009 Regional. Previously, SC teams had won one game in 1996 and 2000. They had not won a game in the 1997, 1999, and 2008 Regionals.
This was the 6th meeting of the year between the NEWMAC regular-season co-champs, Coast Guard, and the NEWMAC Tournament champs, Springfield. The Bears wound up winning four of the six meetings.
Springfield got on the board in the first inning on back-to-back homeruns by Aimee Cassella (Southington, Conn.) and Michelle Wlosek (Nutley, N.J.). Both were hit to right-center field. It was the 5th home run of the year for Cassella, the 7th for Wlosek, who now has 24 career home runs (2nd only to Missy Edwards' 26 from 2002 through 2005). Frederick would respond with her first homerun of the day in the Coast Guard half of the first for a 2-1 game at the end of one inning.
Frederick would put the Bears up for good in her next at bat as she drilled an 0-1 pitch over the fence in centerfield to score Annette Boston (Oceanside, Calif.) and give the Bears a 3-2 lead. Becky Miller (Norco, Calif.) added an RBI single later in the inning for an insurance run.
Springfield scored again in the top of the sixth as Danielle Spiro (South Windsor, Conn.) had an RBI ground out to make it a 4-3 game. With one out, Cassella had reached on a single to right-center. Caitlin Corry (Seekonk, Mass.) then pinch-ran for Cassella. Wlosek then lashed a single down the left field line, with Corry able to take an extra base on an errant throw by the left-fielder. Spiro followed with a soft ground ball to the left of the third baseman, who only had one play at first, Corry scoring. That made it 4-3, Coast Guard.
But the Bears would put the game out of reach in their half of the sixth when Frederick drove in her fourth run with a sacrifice fly and Colleen Denny (Clarence, N.Y.) later added a two-out, two-RBI single for the game’s final tallies.
The Pride went fairly quietly in the seventh. With one out, Laura Riccio (Bristol, Conn.) walked, but that was as much of a threat as SC could muster.
Coast Guard’s Hayley Feindel (River Ridge, La.) picked up her 34th win of the season by striking out 10 batters in seven innings, giving up just three runs (two earned) on four hits and walking three. Feindel wound up going 4-2 versus the Pride, and 34-6 overall, on the season. Frederick led the Bears, going 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored. Denny and Carin Sweeney (Woodbury, Minn.) each went 2-for-4 with Denny driving in a pair.
Samantha Rhodes (Mendon, Mass.) suffered the setback for the Pride, going six innings and giving up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits, while striking out three. Rhodes finished the season with a 15-12 final mark. Cassella and Wlosek combined to go 4-for-5, each driving in a run and scoring one as well.
Springfield might have been short a few more bodies had they been able to play on. DP Amanda Novak (Cos Cob, Conn.), who hit the winning 2-run home run in yesterday's 4-3 win over Endicott, suffered a spasm in her knee while batting in the fourth inning, and had to be replaced by Spiro. Shortstop Tess Gagliano (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.), who had a great tournament with some clutch at-bats, dislocated her shoulder in the later innings. And 3B Shanda Kogut (Preston, Conn.), known for her ability to play in pain, jammed a finger on a grounder in the bottom of the sixth. She batted in the seventh inning anyway.
It was the final game for seven Springfield seniors. They included LF Amanda Lyons (Eastchester, N.Y.), co-captain CF Angela Atkins (East Haddam, Conn.) (who had a two-out, two-strike, two-run walk-off home run in yesterday's second game to eliminate RIC, 3-1), co-captain Riccio, Kogut, Cassella, Spiro, and Rhodes.
To make the NCAA Tournament All-Regional Team, Wlosek hit .571 in five NCAA Tournament games, and slugged at a team-high .786. The junior totaled 11 bases, which included a home run and four runs scored. Her .667 on-base percentage was best on the Pride. Novak hit .375 with a .563 slugging percentage in the tourney. The sophomore had the game-winning two-run homerun in the seventh-inning during Saturday's first SC game to eliminate the host Endicott Gulls. In five games, she had four RBI's and totalled nine bases.
It was a bittersweet ending for Head Coach Kathy Mangano, who was finishing her 20-year career as the Springfield softball pilot. Still, she was very pleased with her troops. Throughout the tournament, the press-box pundits kept on referring to Springfield as 'The Fighting Manganos', as they kept avoiding a final loss for their outgoing leader. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be able to go as far as we did in the post-season," said Mangano, the NEWMAC Coach of the Year for the second straight year. and who finished her career with 481 wins. "We were 15-21 at the end of the regular season, and seeded fourth entering the NEWMAC Tournament. To win that tournament was a bonus. Then to win three games against the caliber of competition that we faced in the NCAA Tournament, was a real bonus. They are all battlers. I couldn't be more pleased with my whole team, but especially for my seven seniors. It's great to see them go out on such a run, and with such vivid memories. They all contributed so greatly to this team in so many ways."