Hawks End Historic Campaign in NCAA Regional

By Monica D’Ippolito

GLASSBORO, NJ — After falling in the opening game of its very first NCAA Regional, the State University of New York at New Paltz came out determined Friday to keep its season alive.

The Hawks bounced back hot in an elimination game against Centenary to start the afternoon and earned a comfortable, 7-2 win, but couldn’t overcome a tough MIT team that they had fallen to not 24 hours earlier. Ultimately, their historic 2024 campaign came to an end after falling to the Engineers, 7-1.

“I think we’re grateful to have had this experience to make it to an NCAA for a first time, just to see what it’s like,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Krysti Maronski. “These kids haven’t experienced anything like it before and it is different. You’re on a different stage, you’re on a stage where every team is really good. They’re either conference winners or got an at-large berth, so every game is going to be a grind. You have to bring your best ball every day at the end of the year. It was definitely a good experience.”

The program had never tasted the national stage until this season after capturing their very first conference title last weekend on their home field. They traveled to Rowan University in a pod against the hosting and No. 15 nationally ranked Profs, NEWMAC champions MIT and America East champion Cyclones. After falling to the Engineers in the opening game Friday, 4-1, the Hawks answered in a big way to start Friday afternoon against Centenary.

SUNY New Paltz capitalized on early mistakes by the Cyclones, as a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch allowed Jaycee Filancia to get into scoring position in the first inning. Kelsey O’Brien then came through a batter later, swinging for a two-out RBI base hit to center that brought Filancia home and gave the Hawks an early, 1-0 cushion.

Lindsay Roman earned the start in the circle for SUNY New Paltz and after a 1-2-3 bottom first, she weathered a lead-off double in the second, forcing three-straight outs to strand the runner and keep the game at a run difference. Her team gave her some breathing room in the third, again taking advantage of Centenary errors in the field.

Lauren Serrao opened the inning with a patient at-bat, earning a free base on a full count walk. Jackie Rometo moved her over on a sacrifice bunt before Filancia snuck a soft blooper just inside the third base side to get runners on the corners. Jillian Shelbourne then walked and on the fourth ball, Serrao scored and Filancia moved to third as the pitch got behind home plate for a passed ball.

O’Brien walked back up to the batter’s box and came through once more, striking another RBI single to center to create a 3-0 cushion after scoring Filancia. Sydney Bonewit helped the lead to 5-0 after she hustled down the first base line on a slow grounder to short, which was overthrown allowing two more to score.

Roman yielded a run in the third and fifth, which cut the difference to three, but SUNY New Paltz’s offense continued to rake and added two more in the sixth. Emmie Mae Cabrera pulled a ball that snuck through the left side for a lead-off single. Serrao then struck a base hit on the following at-bat with both runners advancing two batters later on a wild pitch. Shelbourne came up to the plate with the lefty just two RBI shy of the team’s single season program record. In one swing, she not only boosted her team’s lead but also etched her name in the record books as she cracked a two-out, two-RBI single to right side to create a 7-2 advantage.

Sydney Waldon closed out the side in the bottom half, relieving Roman, as the junior struck out three-straight batters looking for a quick half inning. After a 1-2-3 top seventh, Waldon sealed the victory getting three outs on four batters faced.

Roman was handed the win to improve to 18-6 overall, allowing just five hits, two earned runs and three walks with four strikeouts. Waldon in two innings pitched, allowed just a walk on seven batters faced with four strikeouts.

O’Brien led the way offensively, going 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI. Serrao followed, going 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored, while Filancia added a hit and two runs as well, along with a stolen base.

“I was really happy with the way they came out, especially in the first inning,” Maronski said. “We put one up on the board and I think all year every time we’ve scored early, the outcome of the game has been pretty good for us, so that was exciting to see. Then, we had another pretty big inning. Mae had a good plan at the plate and took advantage of Centenary’s mistakes and you can tell from the first at-bat that they wanted that win really bad, so that was awesome for us to go out there this weekend and get a W.”

SUNY New Paltz offense couldn’t keep the momentum going in game two against the Engineers, managing just five hits, four of which came in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

After MIT took an early 4-0 lead in the first, the Hawks threatened in the bottom of the third. Cabrera led off with a base hit with Jackie Rometo following two batters later on a single through the left side. Filancia took four straight balls to load the bases, but the Engineers got out of the jam forcing Shelbourne to line out before O’Brien grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the side.

SUNY New Paltz got on the board in the fourth, as Bonewit started the inning on a base hit through the infield. Cabrera’s hot bat continued, as the sophomore ripped a double to left, scoring Bonewit and bringing the score to 4-1. However, the Hawks couldn’t pile on, as Serrao grounded out to first to end the threat.

Mustering just one hit the rest of the way, SUNY New Paltz faced a six-run deficit entering the bottom of the seventh as the Engineers added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh. The Hawks couldn’t connect and was shut down in a 1-2-3 inning.

Waldon was given just her second loss of the season after tossing 5.2 innings, allowing eight hits, five earned runs and four walks with two strikeouts. Cabrera led the offense, going 2-for-3 with the team’s lone RBI. Bonewit followed, adding a hit, run scored and two walks.

SUNY New Paltz ends the season at 36-8 overall — the most wins in program history en route to its first SUNYAC title and NCAA appearance. It graduates a decorated senior class that leave as the winningest players to ever come through the program, setting a new standard of SUNY New Paltz Softball.

“As has been the whole time that they’ve been with us, they did great,” Maronski said. “When you get toward the end of your senior year, you’re playing for your career to continue so that adds a little bit of a motivation to play the best softball you can play for that to continue. They did that. They came out and fought every at-bat and every inning they put their best foot forward to continue to keep our season going.”

The Hawks will move into the next chapter of the program, as seniors Roman, Shelbourne, Bonewit, Kelly Marmorwoski, Rhionna Bianchini, Isabella Shepherd and Nicole Greco move on into their post-collegiate career.

“Just the culture change,” added Maronski. “Expecting to be at a higher level than where we were at initially, continuously wanting to reach for higher goals every year and knowing that you have the talent, and we have the talent to did it as a group. I think their mindset has been really good and always stayed the course of what we wanted New Paltz Softball to be and where we want to go, and they worked really hard at that so I’m really proud of them.”

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