Postgame Interviews – The College of Staten Island women’s softball team made quite a statement to open up the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament in Union, NJ, today, scoring a 9-1 win over regional-power William Paterson University in the opening game at Kean University this afternoon. CSI, winners of 10-straight, improved to 31-10 overall, and will face hosts Kean tomorrow morning at 11:00am in a winner’s bracket battle.

It was a milestone game for the Dolphins in many ways. The win broke an NCAA Tournament 10-game losing skid dating back to 2007, and was the highest run total the Dolphins put up in a national tourney contest. It was also the Dolphins’ first win in program history over William Paterson, after having dropped the first six games in the series dating back to 2010.

The story of this game was CSI’s stellar play on the base paths, coupled with outstanding fielding and taking advantage of some big Pioneers blunders over the course of the contest.

CSI wasted little time, registering early with a run in the first off of WPU starter Allison Podmajersky. Senior Brittany Smith looped a single into right field, and after WPU recorded the second out of the frame, Smith stole second, advancing to third on a mis-throw to second base. One pitch later, Smith stole home on the relay throw from catcher Kim Fryer back to Podmajersky, giving CSI a 1-0 lead on the first of many great base running plays by Smith and the Dolphins.

On the other side, CSI starter Jacqueline Cautela induced a number of ground balls and her fielders were sterling behind her as WPU was kept off of the scoreboard until the third inning. A leadoff walk was surrendered by Cautela, and after a sac, a pair of singles, the second by Nicole Fryer, chased Kim Fryer home to knot the score at 1-1. Cautela rebounded, however, recording two outs as WPU left a pair on base.

Play then moved to the fourth, and that’s when CSI took over the game. CSI loaded the bases on consecutive hits and a hit by pitch, and after WPU recorded an out at home plate, CSI’s Kristy Colangelo hit a hard grounder to shortstop, but a play at the plate was not converted, and another good job of base running got CSI a 2-1 lead. Samantha Bowbliss was next up, and the freshman blooped a single to right field. CSI’s runners were holding on the play, but once the ball hit turf, Danielle Locke came in to score. Rather than make a throw to second base that likely would have nailed Colangelo out, WPU elected to throw home, and a wild throw by Nicole Fryer allowed Maxine Jasko to score. After the errant throw, third baseball Lachelle Rouse tried to nail Colangelo at third base, but her throw went awry and Colangelo scored. When the dust settled, Bowbliss’ bloop single cleared the bases aided by two errors, and CSI was up, 5-1.

That proved enough for Cautela, who pitched a five hitter, and did not have to strike out a single batter, as CSI finished perfect in the field. To pad their lead, CSI added a run in the fifth, again thanks to Smith on the bases. The senior legged out an infield single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third on the next pitch, and advanced on another wild pitch to make it 6-1. In the seventh, CSI opened it up with three more runs. Smith was a catalyst again. After a single, she stole second, and then when she was advanced to third, a failed pick-off saw her come in to score again. One at bat later, Chyanne Gilliam towered a double off of the wall in straightaway centerfield to score Christina Tufano, making it 9-1.

CSI out-hit WPU, 11-5, led by Smith’s 3-4 performance with three runs scored and four stolen bases. Podmajersky took the loss, going 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits, fanning three.

CSI will now match up against Kean in the winner’s bracket tomorrow at 11am. Kean was a 4-0 winner over Farmingdale State in the later of the two games. WPU will face Farmingdale in the first elimination game of the Tournament at 1:30pm. CSI faced Kean twice this season, with the Cougars taking games, 4-0, and 12-8.

The winner of CSI-Kean tomorrow advances straight to the Regional Championship on Sunday. The loser will have to play the winner of WPU-Farmingdale at 4:30pm tomorrow.