LIU softball’s run ends in Tuscaloosa
Sharks blanked by Central Arkansas in NCAA Regionals
A dream season didn’t end with a dream weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the Long Island University softball team.
After surviving a dramatic five-game run through the Northeast Conference Championships to grab their first league title since 2016, the Sharks suffered back-to-back defeats to fifth-ranked Alabama and Central Arkansas over the weekend in the NCAA Regionals.
Though it won three consecutive elimination games just to enter the Tuscaloosa Regionals, LIU couldn’t muster a single run in Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Crimson Tide and Saturday night’s 15-0 blanking at the hands of the Bears.
“What a season,” said Sharks head coach Roy Kortmann after leading his ladies to their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in his 29 years helming the program.
“I am so proud of this team,” he added. “We battled all year long and I know we were all thrilled to be here playing on the biggest stage.”
The Sharks (32-26) stayed close to the Tide (41-18) in Friday’s opener thanks to the combined pitching effort of sophomore tandem Lindsey Cowens (16-20) and Alyssa O’Donnell.
The duo limited Alabama to seven hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts over six innings, but the LIU offense never fired.
The Sharks were held to four hits during a complete-game effort by Tide starter Jaala Torrence (7-2).
“We battled hard against a good team and we left it all out there,” noted Kortmann.
On Saturday, the Sharks only managed two hits as Central Arkansas dashed their hopes early with 13 first-inning runs.
Cowans, who was reached for three runs in the opening frame against Alabama in the opener, didn’t leave Tuscaloosa without good news.
She was named third-team All-Northeast Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Graduate student Camryn Lyman, who managed a base hit against Alabama, led the Sharks this year with 52 hits and 36 runs scored. She went 0-for-2 in her swan song performance for LIU Saturday.
“I have so much to be thankful for,” Lyman said. “I’m so grateful for this team and for coach Roy and the rest of the staff. I left it all out there.”
As did her teammates from Opening Day in Fort Myers, Florida back in February to Saturday’s finale in Tuscaloosa.
The LIU baseball team, which will play its NEC Tournament opener Wednesday afternoon in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., vs. Sacred Heart, saw a trio of its players receive conference accolades on Tuesday.
Hurler Alec Huertas and designated hitter Carlton Harper were tabbed First Team All-NEC while left fielder Jake Mastillo took home Second Team honors.
Huertas, the Sharks’ staff ace, returned from Tommy John surgery after missing LIU’s run to through the NECs and into the NCAA Regionals last year. He was named NEC Pitcher of the Week twice this season and is coming off a postseason-clinching win over Wagner last Thursday.
Harper, who delivered the game-winning hit in a 6-4, 13-inning thrilller vs. Bryant last year to help get LIU into the national championship tournament, batted a sizzling .335 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 50 games.
Mastillo, a transfer from Division II Lock Haven, blasted 14 homers, one more than big league draftee E.J. Exposito hit last year, and drove in a team-high 48 runs.
His throw from left field last Thursday nailed a runner at the plate to preserve the Sharks’ 3-2 win over Wagner, clinching the Sharks’ NEC tourney spot.
LIU (18-34, 16-14 NEC) will begin its run back to the NCAAs at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The game can be watched on NEC Front Row.
The Brooklyn Cyclones rode solid pitching by top Mets pitching prospect Blake Tidwell and a balanced offensive attack to a 7-3 victory over the Winston-Salem Dash in the opener of a six-game series Tuesday night in front of 1,449 fans at Maimonides Park.
Tidwell (2-3), the Mets’ second-round pick out of Tennessee in the 2022 MLB Draft, yielded two runs on two hits with four walks and seven strikeouts over the first five frames.
Though he left the contest with a slim 3-2 lead, the Cyclones (16-21) made sure he registered his second win of the campaign.
Paul Gervase gave up a hit over two innings before Trey McLoughlin allowed an unearned run over the final two frames to pick up his first save of the year.
Center fielder Alex Ramirez, left fielder Jaylen Palmer and right fielder Omar De Los Santos drove in two runs apiece for Brooklyn, which got at least one hit from eight of its nine starters.
The Cyclones were slated to host the Dash against Wednesday at 11 a.m. on Education Day at the park. Right-hander Cameron Foster (1-3, 4.78 ERA) was scheduled to take the ball for Brooklyn.
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