May 6, 2009


Historic playoff win for Panthers


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
TC3’s second baseman Ashley Greenough (10) tags second base, forcing out Genesee CC’s Jerrica McAndrew (33) in the second inning of Tuesday’s Regional tournament game in Dryden. TC3 advanced with a 3-0 victory.

DRYDEN — Strong pitching and timely hitting from the bottom of the line-up helped third-seeded Tompkins Cortland Community College softball to a 3-0 win over sixth-seed Genesee CC in the opening round of the NJCAA Region III playoffs.
It was the first playoff victory in the history of TC3 softball. The Panthers are now 29-10 overall and 25-4 in Region III this season.
Genesee ends the year with a record of 19-18 overall and 16-10 in Region III.
TC3 advances to the Region III-B best-of-3 final series Friday at noon in Corning. The Panthers will take second-seed Corning CC — a 5-4 winner over seventh-seed Herkimer CC in eight innings yesterday.
The winner of the series will be the Region III-B champion and will advance to the national tournament in Rochester, Minnesota.
The game opened with the visitors applying pressure early.
TC3 pitcher Lauren Dykeman walked the leadoff hitter, and, after a sacrifice bunt, allowed a single that left runners on first and third with one out. Facing the cleanup hitter, Dykeman stepped up with a strikeout for the second out. The final out came when catcher Ashley Brown, a Homer alumnus, threw out the runner trying to steal second, stranding the leadoff runner at third.
After TC3 was set down in order in the bottom of the first, Dykeman again worked around a walk to keep Genesee off the board heading into the bottom of the second. In the TC3 half of the inning, the Panthers took the lead for good.
With one out, Dykeman helped her own cause with a hit, starting a string of five straight singles that produced two runs. A double play with the bases loaded ended the inning before the Panthers could do more damage, but the 2-0 lead would prove to be enough as Dykeman allowed just two base runners over the final five innings. TC3 added an insurance run in the fourth when Brianna Sheppard and Brooke Wierzbicki laced back-to-back doubles to make it 3-0.
For the game, Dykeman allowed just two hits while striking out four. Only three balls left the infield as the defense played error-free behind her. Sheppard went 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles. Wierzbicki finished 2-for-3 with the double and two RBIs.
Dragons Top Region Seed
The SUNY Cortland softball team, playing in the NCAA Division III tournament for the third straight year, is the top seed for a seven-team regional the runs Thursday through Sunday at Ithaca College’s Kostrinsky Field.
The Red Dragons (40-6) earned an at-large berth into the national tournament after finishing second while hosting the SUNY Athletic Conference tournament in Cortland last weekend. The Red Dragons lost to Buffalo State 3-2 in an extra-inning title game.
Cortland, the regular-season conference champion, will play Thursday at 4 p.m. versus the loser of the regional opener between fourth-seeded Buffalo State (29-12) and fifth-seeded Penn State-Behrend (33-6).
Other first-day matchups include third-seed St. John Fisher (30-10) against sixth-seed Keuka (23-6) at 12 p.m. and second-seed Rochester (31-10) facing seventh-seed King’s (Pa.) (24-12) at 2 p.m. The double-elimination tournament concludes on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division III World Series May 15-19 at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Cortland will be making its 15th NCAA appearance, including its ninth under 15th-year head coach Julie Lenhart. The Red Dragons have advanced to the World Series four times during Lenhart’s tenure – in 1998, 2003, 2004 and last spring – and five times overall.
The Red Dragons’ 40 victories this season are the second-highest total in school history and two shy of the school mark set in 2003. Cortland has won at least 30 games each of the last eight seasons.
Junior pitcher Katie Finch has a 22-4 record, a 0.88 ERA and five saves. Her 267 strikeouts this season are a new school record, breaking her own mark of 254 set last season. She also owns Cortland records for strikeouts in a career (703) and a single game (19) as well as saves in a season (5) and career (7).
Sophomore second baseman Donnalyn Cross is batting .386 with three home runs, 16 stolen bases and a school single-season record 12 triples. Sophomore centerfielder Brooke Weidman has a .345 batting average with eight steals and freshman shortstop Jessica Harman is batting .323 with two homers and a team-high 32 runs batted in.