May 9, 2009
Queens, NY- The Sacred Heart softball team finished a perfect tournament weekend Saturday afternoon with a 4-0 shutout of LIU to capture the NEC championship for the first time in program history. Jen Russell (Seymour, CT) was named the tournament MVP after another stellar performance throwing a four hit shutout against the #1 seed Blackbirds. The Pioneers will now head to the NCAA tournament with Regional play beginning Friday.
Sacred Heart (25-26) jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after senior Betsy Harvey (Unionville, CT), also named to the All-Tournament team, knocked an RBI single to drive in Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) in the first inning. Russell continued the dominance she displayed all weekend retiring the first eight batters she faced and allowing only two earned runs through the entire tournament. Russell faced her only jam of the day in the fourth inning with two outs and two runners in scoring position. The LIU (33-17) threat would end with a ground ball to third baseman Jasmin Vicente (Wantagh, NY) off the bat of Amanda MacIntosh.
Russell made a web gem play of her own in the fifth as Stephanie Savre popped up a ball in front of the plate and the Pioneer pitcher made a diving catch in full extension for the third out. Sacred Heart would pad the lead in the sixth as Jessica Perez (Santa Mria, CA) led off the inning with a single. Amanda Bradley (Langley, BC) slashed a single of her own to put a runner in scoring position. All-Tournament Team member Adrian Fitzsimon (Sacramento, CA) hit a ball back through the middle of the diamond for an RBI single. But the Pioneers were not done in the inning scoring once more off of a hard hit ball from the bat of Vicente that was scored an error.
The Pioneers worked around a two out walk in the sixth and would add another insurance run in the top of the seventh. This time it would be Lee who singled to bring home the Pioneers third All Tournament team member Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA), who homered in both of the first two games of the tournament. The final out of the game was a ground ball back to Russell as she flipped the ball to Lee at first to start the celebration and send SHU to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
After the game Co-Head Coaches Bippy Luckie and Pam London commented, “We couldn’t be more proud of these girls, they worked hard and deserved today”. The Pioneers will find out where they will play and who their opponents will be in the big dance during tomorrow’s selection show at 10:00 pm on ESPNU.