BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College continues its look back at the 2015-16 athletic campaign with the No. 2 highlight in the Top 10 Exciting Games – the softball squad defeating Susquehanna University for the 2016 Landmark Conference Championship.
The Greyhounds, who were on the countdown with the number nine game of the year for their NCAA Division III Tournament win over Mount Saint Mary College, finished the season at 37-6 and won their second straight and seventh overall Landmark Conference Championship with a 2-1 victory over Susquehanna on Sunday, May 8 at Blue & Grey Field.
For Head Coach John Byrne, a 1982 Moravian graduate, it was the 17th conference championship in his 23 years as the Hounds head coach. He also has 750 career victories leading the program.
"Pitching and defense win you championships, things that we showed throughout the season along with some timely hitting," Byrne said. "Our pitching staff of Josie and Amanda came through and our defense keeps us in games."
"Amanda and I have grown up playing together and against each other as we live in the neighborhood, so we've know each other and what the other is capable of for a while now," Novak said. "We work well together and compliment each other as she like to keep the ball down in the zone and I throw the ball up more. Having her come in for the save gave the batters a different look then what they got from me and kept them off balance leading us to win the game and our second championship together."
Over the last two years, Novak and Carisone have combined for a 75-14 record with 24 shutouts, three saves and 545 strikeouts.
"Both me and Josie have different styles of pitching and I think it works to our advantage that way," commented Carisone. "She throws more off speed and high and I throw more in and out. Our two styles compliment each other. When Josie's on she strikes people out, and when I'm on I get a lot of pop ups and ground balls. I think it's hard for teams to prepare for us when we're both on our game, which is most of the time."
Novak started her second straight Landmark Conference Championship game and earned the victory in the circle. She allowed an unearned run on three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts as Novak posted her 19th victory of the season with the win. After walking the opening batter of the game, Novak made a sliding catch on a bunt attempt to stop a sacrifice attempt.
"My sliding catch, that's one thing I'll definitely remember and something my team will never let me forget either," explained Novak. "That was probably the most un-athletic thing I have ever done in my life. Tensions were running high this game because we were playing for the championship and we were also playing Susquehanna. After I made the catch, catcher Janae Matos and I could not stop laughing and I think that calmed everyone down, including me, and helped us stay loose and focused and win another championship."
Carisone came into the circle in the top of the fifth inning and tossed three scoreless innings of relief for her second save of the season. Carisone allowed three hits and two walks to go with one strikeout, and she worked out of jams in sixth and seventh innings to strand four Susquehanna runners on base.
"I focus mainly on my pitches and hitting my spots," Carisone said about working out of the jams. "I focus on staying ahead of the count, and getting the batters to hit my pitch to get the result I'm looking for which is a weak ground ball or pop up."
Moravian scored both of its runs in the second inning. Junior designated player Victoria Conner led off the inning with a single before sophomore Jackie Marshall came on to pinch run. Sophomore first baseman Jean Markovic put down a sacrifice bunt, and freshman second baseman Julia DeMarco singled to move Marshall to third. Senior right fielder Mary Schlosbon followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to left field as Marshall raced home for a 1-0 advantage. Freshman shortstop Kaela Kane ripped an RBI triple to left center that scored DeMarco with the eventual winning run.
"There's no better feeling than winning a Conference Championship and doing it in back to back years is such a great accomplishment, I could not be more proud of the team for accomplishing it," stated Novak.
Carisone shares the feeling.
"It was a great accomplishment coming in as a freshman and winning a championship, and to follow up as a sophomore winning it again made it even better. We have a great team and we all really play well together," finished Carisone.
You can read the original game story at http://moraviansports.com/sports/sball/2015-16/releases/20160508pp1fxn.
Game number one of the countdown will be released on Friday, July 22 after a look back at some games that just missed the countdown on Wednesday, July 20.