NEWBURGH – Coming off a 9-0 win over Sage to claim the 2016 Skyline Conference Softball Championship, the Mount Saint Mary College Knights will travel to Ithaca to open the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Friday. The Mount will make its first appearance in the national tournament since 2001 when it takes on the 32-8 Bombers.
Mount Saint Mary earned its way into the NCAA Tournament by winning all three of its games in the Skyline Conference Championship. The Knights topped Farmingdale State 4-3 in nine innings to open play in the championship and went on to beat Mount Saint Vincent 4-1 and Sage 9-0.
Sophomore Cindy Connoly was named the championship’s Most Outstanding Player after going 3-0 in the circle with a 1.33 earned run average. She fanned 21 batters in 21 innings pitched and also went 4-for-10 with six RBI at the plate for the Knights.
Senior Chelsea Dexter leads the offensive attack for the Knights in 2016, hitting .440 in 75 at-bats and also paces the team in RBI with 27. Freshman Amanda Almodovar is hitting .414 during her rookie campaign and is second on the team in on-base percentage at .474.
In all, Mount Saint Mary has seven starters hitting at least .300 on the season, with junior Shannon Sommer hitting .382 in a team-high 110 at-bats to go along with a team best 27 runs scored. Connoly leads the team in home runs with four and is hitting .383, adding 26 RBI.
Junior Michelle Surdan has ripped a team-high nine doubles and driven in 20 runs and is hitting .313 on the season, while Breanna DePasquale is hitting a steady .322 with nine extra base hits and 17 RBI.
Connoly leads the pitching staff with a 13-2 record and a 1.40 earned run average. She leads the Skyline Conference in earned run average, opponent’s batting average (.201) and is second in the league in strikeouts with 114. Senior Victoria Goldbach has won five games and fanned 75 batters in 71.1 innings with Colleen Dunn holding a 3-3 record with 46 strikeouts in 35 innings of work.
Mount Saint Mary had five players named All-Conference in 2016, highlighted by Connoly’s second straight conference Pitcher of the Year Award. She was joined on the First Team by Sommer, while Almodovar, Dexter and Sabrina Gordek were made Second Team selections. Head Coach Jessica Mushel was named the league’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Ithaca will enter Friday’s tilt at 32-8 overall, dropping just a single Empire 8 contest in 2016. The Bombers needed two games to dispatch St. John Fisher to claim the 2016 Empire 8 Championship and enter Friday’s contest winners of six of their last seven games overall.
The Bombers are currently the top ranked team in the Northeast Region in the latest regional rankings and also sit 16th in the NFCA National Poll released on May 4. Ithaca currently has five players hitting at least .313, led by Casey Gavin who is batting an even .400 in 105 at-bats.
Kelly Robichaud has slugged 12 of the team’s 32 home runs this far in 2016, driving in 31 runs and slugging an impressive .871. Robichaud has 81 total bases to date and 21 of her 34 hits on the season have gone for extra bases. Vanessa Brown leads the team with 46 hits and is hitting .362, while Allie Colleran is one of seven players to score at least 20 runs, crossing the plate a team-high 30 times.