BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College softball team is heading to the postseason for the 22nd consecutive season as the Greyhounds earned the top seed for the first time since 2011 in the 2016 Landmark Conference Tournament that begins on Friday, May 6 a Blue & Grey Field in Bethlehem.
The tournament starts on Friday with the Greyhounds playing fourth seed The University of Scranton at 11:00 a.m. Second seed The Catholic University of America and third seed Susquehanna University will battle at 1:00 p.m. and the winners of the first two games will play at 3:00 p.m. Friday, with the winner of that game earning a berth in the championship game at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. The losers of Friday's first two games will open Saturday's action at 10:00 a.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors while children under 10 and all Landmark Conference students, faculty and staff with ID are free. Follow the tournament at http://moraviansports.com/sports/sball/2015-16/Landmark/index.
The Greyhounds are heading to the Landmark Tournament as the top seed for the fifth time in the nine-year history of the conference after four straight seasons as the number two seed. Moravian was the top seed in the first four years of the conference. Moravian had won 14 consecutive conference championships including the first five in the Landmark before being knocked out of the conference tournament early in 2013, missing the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in 17 years. The Hounds rebounded with a Landmark Conference title last spring while reaching the NCAA Division III Super Regionals for the first time in school history.
Moravian, under the direction of 23-year head coach John Byrne who has a career slate of 745-225, has posted a 32-4 overall record this spring, the 23rd consecutive season that Moravian has won at least 23 games, and an 11-1 mark in Landmark Conference action. The Blue & Grey are also ranked No. 19 in the nation in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Top 25 poll, and Moravian is ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region in the latest NCAA Division III Regional Rankings.
The Greyhounds, who have won over 30 games 17 times under Byrne, are in the conference tournament for the 17th straight year and the 21st time in 22 years. Moravian posted NCAA regional championships and berths in the 2007 and 2010 NCAA Division III World Series and a national runner-up finish at the 2004 Division III World Series. The Hounds also won a regional championship last year.
"Our pitching staff has been keeping us in every game all season so we'll need the offense to step up this weekend and score some runs to help them out," Byrne said. "We need to continue to make plays in the field and limit any mistakes that may come. I think we match up well with all the teams in the tournament. Catholic, Susquehanna and Scranton are all good teams, and we have to play our best to compete with them. If you make mistakes at this point of the season, it is going to come back and hurt you in the end."
Moravian is hitting .341 entering the tournament with 336 hits including 100 extra-base hits with 67 doubles and 27 home runs for a .503 slugging percentage. Moravian has out-scored its opponents, 200-77, for an average of 5.56 runs per game, and the Greyhounds have a .971 fielding percentage. Moravian has posted 11 shutouts in 32 wins for a 1.71 ERA, and the Hounds' pitchers have recorded 251 strikeouts and just 61 walks this spring.
The Greyhounds have been led in the circle this season by the sophomore duo of Amanda Carisone and Josie Novak. Carisone has a 15-2 record with one save, five shutouts, a 1.61 ERA, 22 walks and 99 strikeouts in 113.1 innings while Novak is 17-2 with six shutouts, a 1.80 ERA, 39 walks and a conference-leading 152 strikeouts in 128.2 innings of action.
Pacing the Greyhounds at the plate in junior left fielder Julie Siragusa, who has a .398 average to go along with 45 hits, 24 runs, a school record 20 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 24 RBIs. Freshman center fielder Kat Spilman is hitting .392 in her debut season with 40 runs, 24 runs, five doubles, a team-high seven home runs and 30 RBIs while junior designated player Victoria Conner has a .367 batting average with 29 hits, 10 runs, four doubles, four homers and 24 RBIs.
Sophomore catcher Janae Matos has contributed a .354 average this spring with 38 hits, 18 runs, eight doubles, five home runs and 24 RBIs while senior right fielder Mary Schlosbon is hitting .345 with 39 hits, 19 runs, three doubles, three triples and five RBIs. Sophomore first baseman Jean Markovic has a .339 batting average with 20 hits, eight runs, two doubles and 11 RBIs while freshman second baseman Julia DeMarco has added a .333 average, 21 hits, 17 runs, four doubles and eight RBIs in her debut season.
Freshman third baseman Madison Shaneberger is hitting .325 with 27 hits, 24 runs, five doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs while freshman shortstop Kaela Kane has a .314 average with 32 hits, 21 runs, two doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs and a team-high 12 sacrifice bunts. Junior first baseman Abby Jeffries had a .328 average with 20 hits, 10 runs, five doubles, a triple, four home runs and 14 RBIs before suffering a season-ending injury.
Junior catcher Niki Maffettone has contributed nine hits, five runs, a double and three RBIs while sophomore infielder Jessica D'Agostino has added seven hits, a run, three doubles and three RBIs. Junior infielder Lizzie Deutsch and freshman outfielder Ashley Gindle each have two hits, two runs and an RBI with Gindle adding a double while junior infielder Chrissy Marinaro has two hits. Sophomore infielder Jackie Marshall has four runs and a hit this spring while freshman infielder Makenna Masenheimer as scored six runs.