NEWTON, Mass. – After winning their final five games to clinch a second consecutive spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) postseason, #8 seed Mount Ida College will start their tournament with a trip to Boston on Tuesday evening to face fifth-seeded Emmanuel in a one-game elimination opening round match-up at 6:00 pm at Roberto Clemente Field.
The Mustangs (13-21, 9-13 GNAC) took the second game of their doubleheader last weekend from Albertus Magnus and then swept twinbills at Rivier and Simmons this past weekend to get into the GNAC postseason for just the third time since joining the conference in 2008.
Emmanuel (22-15, 14-8 GNAC) set a program record for victories in a season this year and comes into the postseason having won six of their last eight, but just one of their final three games.
Emmanuel took both ends of a doubleheader in Boston earlier this year, winning 4-3 and 3-0 behind strong pitching performances from Olivia Burgos (Newington, Conn.) and Jill Kilcoyne (Worcester, Mass.).
In the previous two years, the teams have split both regular season series, with Mount Ida nearly collecting a sweep a year ago, ahead 9-4 before having to forfeit game two after a 4-3 extra innings win in the opening game. In 2014, a marathon 12-inning contest ended with the Mustangs earning a 3-2 win as Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) pitched the entire game and struck out fifteen batters.
Who to Watch:
Handzel and Kilcooyne have been dueling at the top of the GNAC strikeout totals for the entire season. Handzel has punched out 191 batters and has a 1.98 ERA while Kilcoyne has fanned 178 opponents and has allowed 2.16 runs per seven innings, but boasts a 15-6 win/loss record.
At the plate, the Mustangs have speed, power and consistency in leadoff batter Michele MacDonald (N. Dighton, Mass.) and shortstop Hayley Microulis (Pawtucket, R.I.), as well as second baseman Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.). MacDonald and Medici have each stolen 17 bases this year, good for third in the conference, while MacDonald has a .400 batting average and 26 runs scored. Hitting in the #3 spot, Microulis has batted .402, driven in 26 runs and knocked ten doubles.
Freshmen Jenni Jackson (Marlborough, Mass.) and Kelsey Weston (Hampstead, N.H.) have secured the corner infield spots in the Mustang lineup and are second and third on the team in runs batted in, while Emma Morton (Winchester, Mass.) and Sam Laferriere (Tewksbury, Mass.) have taken turns behind the dish and in the designated player role. First years Victoria Russo (Revere, Mass.) and Kristina Stella (Revere, Mass.) have both seen time in the infield and outfield, with Russo batting .277 on the season.
The Emmanuel batting order will look to freshmen Casey Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) and Ashley Skey (Brookline, N.H.), as well as senior Catherine Davis (Wethersfield, Conn.).
Sheehan and Davis each have eight doubles and 40+ hits on the year, with Davis leading the team in RBI (23), stolen bases (12) and runs scored (31). Skey has hit for a .350 average and has 22 RBI and five homers, tying her for sixth in the conference in long-balls.
How to Follow:
Tuesday's game will have live stats available for you to follow the action.
Live Stats: http://mountidamustangs.com/sports/sball/2015-16/boxscores/20160503_02rr.xml
Live Video: http://gnac.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=embstay&id=4918613846
GNAC Softball Tournament Schedule
First Round - Tuesday, May 3 (single elimination)
Game 1: #8 Mount Ida at #5 Emmanuel - 6PM
Game 2: #7 Albertus Magnus at #6 Saint Joseph's Maine - 3:30 PM
Second Round - Friday, May 6 (double-elim begins)
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. #4 Norwich (at #1 Suffolk)
Game 4: Game 2 winner vs. #3 Johnson & Wales (at #2 USJ)
Game 5: Game 3 winner at #1 Suffolk
Game 6: Game 4 winner at #2 USJ
Semifinals - Saturday, May 7 (hosted by #1 Suffolk)
Game 7: Game 4 loser vs. Game 5 loser (elim game)
Game 8: Game 3 loser vs. Game 6 loser (elim game)
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (elim game)
Championship - Sunday, May 8 (hosted by #1 Suffolk)
Game 11: Game 9 loser vs. Game 10 winner (elim game)
Game 12: Game 11 winner vs. Game 9 winner
Game 13: if necessary