BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The No. 11 ranked and top seeded Moravian College softball team won its eighth Landmark Conference Championships and 16th conference title since 2000 with a 3-0 victory over second seed The University of Scranton in the championship game of the 2018 tournament at Blue & Grey Field Saturday.
The Greyhounds, now 32-5 on the year, earn an automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament, the program's 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Hounds will find out on Monday, May 7 where they are headed for the NCAA Division III Regionals when the Selection Show airs at 1:00 p.m. on www.NCAA.com.
"It never gets old winning a conference title, and this group certainly made a statement in this tournament," stated Head Coach John Byrne. "We allowed just one run and got great pitching performances from Amanda and Josie. We started to hit the ball. Brooke came through and put us ahead right away. That gave us a big lift and sometimes that is all that our pitchers need. It is a good feeling, a lot better than last year at this time. We look forward on going onto the third season here and see what we can do.
"I told the team that the toughest part is winning this conference tournament, there is more pressure on you here because it is around everybody you know," continued Byrne. "Going to the NCAA Tournament hangs in the balance when you're playing these games like we found out last year. Once you get to the next step, there are 62 teams and only one team is going to end the year with a win. It is a roll of the dice. You go out and relax, play the best that you can and you represent the conference and Moravian as best as we can. We just have to try and relax and soak all of it in."
Senior pitcher Josie Novak was named the Landmark Conference Tournament's Most Outstanding Player after tossing her second shutout in as many days. She scattered four hits and a walk while striking out seven batters to become just the second pitcher in school history to reach 600 career strikeouts. The win improves Novak's record to 17-2 on the season with her sixth shutout of the year.
The Blue and Grey took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Wehr connected on a solo home run to right center field for her team-leading 10th of the season. It is also the sixth time she's connected on a solo shot to start the Greyhounds' first at-bat of the game.
The Hounds added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend the advantage to 2-0. Freshman shortstop Maddisen Bieber led off with a single and junior Julia DeMaro came in to pinch run. Matos connected on an RBI single over the third baseman's head down the left field line to score DeMarco.
Moravian pushed the edge to 3-0 with a run in the sixth inning as sophomore left fielder Emily Stanilious connected on a one-out single and race home on an RBI double to left center by Wehr.
The Landmark Conference is selling Landmark Conference Championship t-shirts through a pilot program. Orders will be accepted through May 10. For more information, visit https://landmark.ignitecx.com/Moravian2018SBALLchamps.