Champion Sharks headed to Tuscaloosa
NEC champion LIU draws No. 5 Alabama in NCAA Regionals
It’s eleventh heaven for Roy Kortmann and the Long Island University women’s softball team.
Kortmann celebrated the 11th title in his nearly three-decade tenure as coach of the program Sunday, and now the newly crowned Northeast Conference champion Sharks are headed to Tuscaloosa to take on fifth-ranked Alabama in the opening game of the NCAA Regionals.
“This is a refreshing group. They’re good kids,” said Kortmann, who watched his ladies go 4-1 in the double-elimination NEC Tournament, including Friday’s 7-3 win over five-time reigning champion Saint Francis University.
“They have a positive image. They have a good brand,” Kortmann added.
The Sharks (32-24, 14-7 NEC) defeated Merrimack, 4-2, on Sunday to wrap up the historic run to their first NCAA berth since 2016.
Sent to the Tuscaloosa Regional on Sunday, LIU will square off against the Crimson Tide (40-18) at 7 p.m. on Friday night, and will face either Central Arkansas or Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
The game can be watched on ESPN-plus.
Kira Buckner was on the hill for the final three innings Sunday, when the Sharks grabbed the championship.
LIU was facing elimination after a 3-2 loss to Merrimack Friday, but the Sharks rallied to win the next three games.
“I don’t think it would have been an NEC Tournament if it wasn’t risky like that,” Buckner said.
Camryn Lyman was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament after batting a sizzling .545 with five runs scored. Buckner, Gabby Padilla and Alyssa Polemeni were picked for the NEC all-tournament team.
Off the diamond and into the classroom, five members of Kortmann’s crew were named Academic All-District by College Sports Communicators on Tuesday.
Maya Avila, Kristen Blanchard, Buckner, Alyssa O’Donnell and Alyssa Okada received the coveted distinction.
Over at St. Francis Brooklyn, sophomore Malachi Aiken triple-jumped his way to the NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday at the ECAC/IC4A outdoor meet at George Mason Field in Lexington, Virginia.
Aiken, who also posted fourth in the long jump, qualified for the national championships with a triple-jump of 15.30 meters.
According to the SFC athletics site, the jump was a season best for Aiken. Duquesne’s Cameron Mbalo was the closest competitor at 14.84 meters.
Other top finishers for the Terriers included Renaldo Alleyne-Noreiga (seventh in the 100-meter, 10.74 seconds), Armani Dunkley (16th in the long jump, 5.43 meters, 15th in the high jump, 1.58 meters), Tolulope Atolagbe (10th in the triple jump, 11.95 meters, 19th in the long jump, 5.35 meters), Christina Rene (11th in the 400-meter, 57.01) and Janee’ Patterson (17th in the 400-meter hurdles, 1:04.29).
Aiken will be shooting for a national crown in Jacksonville from May 24-27.
Though they were swept out of the CUNYAC Championships last Thursday at BC Field, the Brooklyn College women’s softball team did not go undecorated for a stellar campaign.
The Bulldogs (12-17), who doubled their win total from a season ago to reach the CUNYAC Tournament for the first time since 2014, dropped a pair of games to top-seeded John Jay.
But CUNYAC recognized sophomore ace Danielle Guzzardi, junior shortstop Melanie Millan and freshman catcher Kaitlyn Belfield as All-Stars this year.
Also, graduate utility Isabelle Frank was named to the conference’s Sportsmanship Team.
Guzzardi led the charge for BC, earning All-Star honors for the second straight year after finishing second in the league in innings pitched (158 2/3) and second in strikeouts (170) and wins (12).
The right-hander also tossed a five-inning perfect game against York College last month and matched a career best with 12 strikeouts in the same contest.
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