BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College softball team is ready for its 23rd consecutive postseason appearance as the Greyhounds earned the top seed for the 2017 Landmark Conference Tournament that begins on Saturday, May 6 at Blue & Grey Field in Bethlehem.
The tournament, originally slated to begin on Friday but was postponed due to the weather, starts on Saturday with the Greyhounds playing fourth seed Juniata College at 10:00 a.m. Second seed Susquehanna University and third seed The Catholic University of America will battle at 12:00 p.m. and the winners of the first two games will play at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, with the winner of that game earning a berth in the championship game on Sunday. The losers of Saturday's first two games will play either the final game on Saturday or the first game on Sunday depending on daylight. Sunday's action is slated to begin at 9:00 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/2016-17/Landmark/index.
The Greyhounds head to the Landmark Tournament as the top seed for the sixth time in the 10-year history of the conference. Moravian has won a total of seven Landmark Conference Championships and is the only program in the conference to make the tournament in each of the conference's ten seasons.
Moravian, led by 24-year head coach John Byrne who has a career slate of 783-231, has posted a 34-4 overall record this spring, the 24th straight year that Moravian has won at least 23 games, and an 11-1 mark in Landmark Conference action. The Blue & Grey are also ranked No. 11 in the nation in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Top 25 poll, and Moravian is ranked third in the Atlantic Region in the latest NCAA Division III Regional Rankings.
The Greyhounds, who have won over 30 games 18 times under Byrne, are in the conference tournament for the 18th consecutive season and the 22nd time in 23 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 in 2015 to advance to the first Super Regional in program history.
"Our pitching staff and defense have been keeping us in every game all season but we're hoping the offense steps up this weekend and scores some runs to help them out," stated Byrne. "I think we match up well with all the teams in the tournament. Catholic, Susquehanna and Juniata are all good teams, and we have to play our best to compete with them. Mistakes at this point of the season are going to come back and hurt you and could end the season quickly."
Moravian is hitting .342 entering the tournament with 351 hits including 97 extra-base hits with 75 doubles and 17 home runs for a .475 slugging percentage. Moravian has out-scored its opponents, 231-41, for an average of 6.08 runs per game, and the Greyhounds have a .974 fielding percentage. Moravian has posted 22 shutouts in 34 wins for a 0.79 ERA, and the Hounds' pitchers have recorded 212 strikeouts and just 34 walks this spring.
The Greyhounds have been led in the circle this year by juniors Josie Novak and Amanda Carisone. Novak, the 2017 Landmark Conference Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-Conference selection, is 17-2 with a 0.58 ERA, 13 shutouts, two saves, 18 walks and 133 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. Carisone, who made the All-Conference Second Team, is also 17-2 with a 1.01 ERA to go with three shutouts, 15 walks and 76 strikeouts in 117.2 innings. Freshman Paige Lesher has been part of another six shutouts by the Greyhounds and has a walk, three strikeouts and a 0.72 ERA in 9.2 innings.
Junior catcher Janae Matos, the 2017 Landmark Conference Player of the Year and All-Conference First Team honoree, leads Moravian at the plate with a .525 batting average to go with 53 hits, 22 runs, a school-record tying 21 doubles, three homers and 42 RBIs. Senior first baseman Abby Jeffries, an All-Conference First Team selection, is hitting .411 with 46 hits, 19 runs, eight doubles, four home runs and 32 RBIs while senior left fielder Julie Siragusa, another First Team All-Conference pick, has a .367 average to go along with 47 hits, 26 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, a homer and 17 RBIs.
Sophomore center fielder Kat Spilman was named to the All-Conference Second Team and has a .371 batting average with 39 hits, 28 runs, four doubles, three home runs and 15 RBIs while sophomore shortstop Kaela Kane, a First Team All-Conference honoree, has 32 hits, 24 runs, four doubles and 14 RBIs. Freshman second baseman/outfielder Lauren Goetz, who was selected to the All-Conference First Team as a utility player, has 27 hits, 16 runs, eight doubles, a home run and 17 RBIs while freshman right fielder Emily Stanilious, a Second Team All-Conference selection, has added 20 hits, 16 runs, two doubles, a homer and 10 RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Madison Shaneberger has 15 hits, 2 runs, five doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs on the season while freshman outfielder Olivia Martin was named to the All-Conference First Team as a designated player after collecting 14 hits, four runs, four doubles and eight RBIs.
Senior catcher Niki Maffettone also has 14 hits on the season to go along with three runs, two doubles and nine RBIs while junior first baseman Jean Markovic has nine hits, five runs, two doubles and three RBIs. Senior designated player Victoria Conner has contributed eight hits with two runs, a double, a homer and 11 RBIs while sophomore second baseman Julia DeMarco has six hits, 10 runs, a double, a home run and two RBIs.
Senior infielder Lizzie Deutsch has five hits, four runs and five RBIs while senior infielder Chrissy Marinaro, sophomore outfielder Ashley Gindle, junior outfielder Jackie Marshall and freshman infielder/outfielder Samantha O'Keefe all have three hits. Gindle has also scored eight runs and added two RBIs while Marshall has 12 runs, a double and two RBIs and O'Keefe has four runs, a double, a triple and four RBIs. Freshman infielder/outfielder Colleen McCoy has contributed two hits, three runs and two RBIs while freshman outfielder Taylor Herman has scored 12 runs and added one hit.