Softball Earns the 2017 America East Title
VESTAL, N.Y.—The University at Albany Softball team takes home the program's sixth America East title. This championship is UAlbany's 100th conference title as a department.
Coming out of the winner's bracket, UAlbany fell to Maine in the first game 2-0, and then came back to claim the title 6-1 in the second. This will be the senior class' second America East Championship after winning the title in 2014, their freshman year. With this win, the Great Danes have earned an automatic entry into the NCAA tournament regionals.
"I am so proud of this team and how far we have come. It was a long week with a lot of pressure packed games and this group of kids stayed tough and answered the bell every time we needed them to. We got great pitching all week long, and some huge clutch hits from so many different kids in the lineup," said head coach Chris Cannata.
Sarah Petzold, Liz Snow, Chelsea Henige, and Devin Durando were named to the America East All-Tournament Team. Devin Durando was named the America East Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Durando allowed only one run in the second game, striking out two batters.
"We had struggled so much during the season and we finally got them to believe in what we knew was inside of them. We are banged up and exhausted but we are coming home with a championship," said Cannata.
GAME 1 (2-0 L)
In the bottom of the first inning, Maine created one hit, a fielder's choice, and an intentional walk to load the bases. Needing two outs, Celeste Verdolivo was up to the challenge. Verdolivo struck out the next two batters, each with full counts to leave the inning unscathed.
Maine took an early lead in the bottom of the third. The Black Bear's Alyssa Derrick shot her 15th home run of the season over the fence.
Another Black Bear run came in the bottom of the fifth. After two Great Dane errors, Derrick knocked in another run from a single into left center. UAlbany hung with Maine through out the game outhitting the Black Bears 7-6. However, the Great Danes were unable to capitalize and create runs.
GAME 2 (6-1 W)
Devin Durando was in charge of the mound in the winner-takes-all game. Maine scored first once again from a combination of two hits. The RBI came from the Black Bear's Maddie Moore.
In the top of the 3rd, Kayla Bailey laid down a beautiful bunt placed between the pitcher and the third baseman. Just after Bailey touched first base, lightning struck causing a game delay. The game delay lasted three hours with both teams taking shelter in the Binghamton facilities.
The game resumed at 3:15 PM.
The Great Danes turned it up a notch after the delay. Resuming play with Bailey on first and no outs, McKenzie Bump laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over. Then came Sarah Petzold who shot a hard grounder up the middle into center field while Bailey rounded third to score. Liz Snow joined Petzold on base with a simple single to the right side. Then Chelsea Henige cranked a three-run home run over the fence to send the Great Danes on a three-run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh UAlbany added two more runs to increase the lead. Shaye Swiatek singled with a bunt to first base, then Bump doubled to right center. Loading the bases, Snow was walked for the seventh time of the tournament. It was Donna Conrad who sent in the final two runs making the score 6-1 in favor of UAlbany. Durando pitched a seventh inning gem leading the Danes to the final three outs of the game.
UAlbany will return home and await their next opponent, who will be announced tonight at 10:00 p.m. on ESPN2. The NCAA Regional round will be held from May 19-21 in 16, four-team double elimination tournaments. Sixteen teams will advance to the Super Regional round.