The College of Staten Island women’s softball team is back on top, getting past No. 4 seeded Hunter College in a thrilling game to lay claim to their 15th CUNYAC Women’s Softball Postseason Championship earlier this afternoon at the CSI Softball Complex. CSI won the contest 9-8 in extra innings in a game that teetered back and forth. The Dolphins improved to 24-14, a run that included a 3-0 swing through the tournament over the past two days, clinching their sixth berth to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament in program history.
It was a great game from start to finish, one that featured seven lead changes. To get to the Final, Hunter emerged from a 3-0 win over Brooklyn College earlier in the afternoon. They would need to beat CSI twice, while the Dolphins only needed a single win to take the championship.
CSI starter Victoria Procopio went start to finish for the Dolphins in the circle, and the sophomore surrendered a pair of runs in the game’s first inning. After two straight base hits to open the game, Sophia Ponce singled to right center, scoring Briana Kresback to give Hunter a 1-0 lead. One at-bat later, it was Holly Isenberg’s turn, singling to left field to score Molly Meehan. Procopio worked out of the jam, but the Hawks had the lead, 2-0.
Hunter gave their ball to Erika Colangelo, and the freshman was also victimized in the first inning. Brittany Smith, who opened with an infield single, was plated by Maxine Jasko, and later, with the bases loaded, an HC error off of the bat of Danielle Locke scored Stefanie Solari, advancing Jasko to third as well. Samantha Tallerine was up next, and the sophomore laced a deep fly ball and scored a sacrifice RBI plating Jasko. At the end of one frame, CSI had an early, 3-2, lead.
Both pitchers got through scoreless second and third innings, and in the fourth, Hunter wrestled back control. A CSI error and a walk put two runners on base and after a Briana Lombardo single the bases were loaded. An RBI-single by Kristen McGoldrick then knotted the score at 3-3, but the Hawks weren’t finished. After loading the bases again, Meehan tallied a sac fly, scoring Lombardo, and then an infield single by Meghan O’Shea plated another tally to make it 5-3 Hunter.
CSI needed an answer, but Colangelo shut the door in the fourth. The Dolphins got a run back, however, in the fifth, when Solari would come home from third via an infield hit by Locke, making it 5-4. One inning later, the pitcher became the hero. Chyanne Gilliam reached on a HC error, and one out later, the Hawks should have been out of the inning. Instead, up stepped Procopio, who helped her own cause with a two-run homerun, giving CSI a crucial 6-5 lead with only three outs to go.
The Hawks, however, refused to go quietly, and the Dolphins made a crucial error in the top of the seventh as well and together with a pair of hits, Hunter had the bases jammed with one out. Julia Lipovac then appeared to hit the potential game winner, a sac fly that plated Meehan to tie, but CSI’s throw went errant, allowing O’Shea to score as well from second base. The runs were unearned but Hunter had themselves a commanding 7-6 lead, and now they were three outs away from a win.
CSI had other plans.
Maxine Jasko walked to start the inning, and then Christina Tufano legged out what was supposed to be a sac bunt. With two on and no one out, the two base runners advanced on a passed ball. Then came Locke, who plated Jasko with a sac fly to left field, tying the score again, 7-7. CSI had Tufano at third base with one out, but Colangelo got both Tallerine and Alissa Setteducato to hit infield flies to end the threat, sending the game to extra frames.
Neither team scored in the eighth and ninth innings. Angelica Iacovetti replaced a laboring Colangelo in the ninth, but again CSI would strand Tufano at third base. The game then moved to the 10th inning, where the international tiebreaker rule was used, placing a runner at second base. Both teams cashed in on the help. In the top of the frame, Lipovac started at second, and she promptly stole third. Nicole Filisetti hit another potential game winner, a sac fly to centerfield, plating Lipovac and giving Hunter an 8-7 lead. Procopio settled and got the two remaining outs, but again CSI was down to its final three outs, down by one.
Tallerine was placed at second base, and was pinch run for by Alex Florida, and she was moved over to third with a successful sac bunt by Setteducato. Gilliam then walked. Brittany Smith then hit a very shallow ball to centerfield. Florida was not running on the play, but a throwing error then sent Florida sprinting for home and the freshman was safe, knotting the score and moving Gilliam over to second with one out. Gilliam then chanced a steal and made it in safely. For the third time, CSI had the game-winning run at third base, and this time they made it hurt. Procopio took her turn at the plate, and smashed an RBI double into left field, easily scoring Gilliam and winning the game, 10-9.
CSI out-hit Hunter, 13-12, but the teams combined for five errors leading to 11 unearned runs. MVP Procopio finished 2-for-6 with three RBI while tossing the complete game win, her third of the playoffs. Tufano went 4-5 at the dish, while Solari went 3-5 with two runs scored. Iacovetti took the loss for Hunter tossing 1.1 innings of relief. O’Shea went 3-5 with an RBI and run scored.
The win carried with it an automatic NCAA tournament berth. CSI will find out Monday where it will go to play. Like the CUNYAC tourney, the NCAA Regionals feature a double-elimination format. Be sure to tune into www.csidolphins.com for the latest updates.