May 12, 2008


Dragons off to World Series

Beat Endicott 3-1 to finish unbeaten at NCAA Regional in Plattsburgh


Semeraro Photography
The SUNYCortland softball squad celebrates after beating Endicott 3-1 Sunday to win the Plattsburgh Regional at the NCAA Division III tournament. The Red Dragons advance into the World Series being played later in the week in Virginia.

PLATTSBURGH — Not that SUNY Cortland will mind being in Virginia later this week at the NCAA Division III World Series, where the Red Dragons will be competing for a national softball title.
But the Red Dragons have thrived here at Cardinal Park in the northeast corner of New York State, including winning the Plattsburgh Regional NCAA title in dramatic fashion Sunday afternoon.
Freshman Donnalyn Cross singled in two runs in the top of the seventh inning as the Red Dragons beat Endicott College 3-1 in the championship round game.
That was the fourth win without a stumble for the Red Dragons during this four-day, double-elimination regional. That sends Coach Julie Lenhart’s team, ranked 22nd nationally, onto the World Series with a 38-11 record and a seven-game winning streak.
The previous weekend at this same Cardinal Park locale, the Red Dragons came up with three straight press-ure-packed victories to capture the SUNY Athletic Conference playoff title and earn a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament field.
Cortland’s opponent on Friday at the World Series — where eight teams will battle in Salem, Va. — will be either DePauw from Indiana or Wisconsin-Whitewater. Those teams play the final game of their regional this morning.
Cortland will be in the World Series for the fifth time, having previously appeared in 1985, 1998, 2003 and 2004.
Cortland beat Endicott 4-1 in the winner’s bracket final on Saturday. Endicott then eliminated St. John Fisher 3-0 to earn a rematch — but had to knock off the Red Dragons twice Sunday to advance into the World Series.
Thanks to Cortland’s decisive seventh inning, the Gulls (41-6) from Massachusetts never got that second chance.
Cortland 3, Endicott 1: Sophomore pitcher Katie Finch tossed a five-hitter with no walks and seven strikeouts. She finished 3-0 with a save in Cortland’s four regional wins and is 21-7 on the year.
Finch and Cross were named to the regional all-tournament team along with senior catcher Amanda Barnett, junior outfielder Kim Whitman and sophomore designated player Emily Ringen.
Maria Mangine (15-2) gave up five hits and three walks and struck out five in a complete-game effort for Endicott. She allowed no hits and two walks over the first four innings.
In the top of the fifth for Cortland, junior shortstop Bethany Williamson led off with a single and pinch-runner Maria Blum was bunted to second by pinch-hitter Crystal Carlson.  Sophomore Jackie Begnoche then hit a ball that was misplayed by the first baseman, allowing Blum to score.
Finch retired the first 11 batters she faced before giving up a two-out, infield single to Rachel Pearson in the fourth. Pearson finished 2-for-3 in the game.
In the fifth, Endicott’s Merry MacDonald hit a homer over the fence in center to tie the game at 1-1. The Gulls, however, never got a runner past first base the rest of the game.
Cortland’s winning rally started with a leadoff single to right center by freshman Brooke Weidman. Begnoche successfully sacrificed Weidman to second and Whitman singled to left center. Weidman held at third, with Whitman taking second on the throw into the infield. Cross then singled up the middle to drive in both Weidman and Whitman and give the Red Dragons a 3-1 lead.
Cortland continued to threaten, but left the bases loaded.
Cortland 4, Endicott 1: On Saturday in the winner’s bracket final, Finch allowed six hits and one unearned run. She struck out nine and did not issue a walk.
Whitman went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Ringen doubled and drove in two runs to lead the offense.
A two-out fielding error handed Endicott a fourth inning run. The Red Dragons answered with three runs in the bottom of that same inning.
Catcher Barnett led off with a single through the right side and senior Annemarie Nelson doubled to left-center to push Barnett to third. Ringen followed with a two-run double to right to score Nelson and pinch-runner Cait Carner.
Senior Shara Evanter singled to left and a Bethany Williamson fielder’s choice to second drove in Ringen.
Cortland threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases with one out on a Whitman leadoff single, a Cross single up the middle and, two batters later, Nelson being hit by a pitch.
Endicott’s Jackie Collier, who relieved Jen Elwell to start the fifth, got out of the jam by getting Ringen to foul out and Evanter to line out to short.
Cortland’s final run came in the sixth. Williamson singled through the left side and went to second on a groundout to batters later. Rose Morrison pinch-ran for Williamson and went to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Whitman’s RBI single through the left side.
Finch gave up a two-out double to Endicott’s MacDonald in the sixth, but a fly out ended that inning. MacDonald finished the game 2-for-2.
In the seventh, pinch-hitter Dottie Bartsch doubled and went to third on an error on the play to lead off the inning. Bartsch was stranded, however, as Finch induced a fly-out and struck out the final two batters.