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QC softball wins NYCAC, NCAA-bound

Brian DeMasters knew his team would need a little help to get the NCAA Tournament heading into last week. The coach of the Queens College softball team also knew his team would have to do its own work too and most likely “win out” if it was to have any chance of making it back to the dance.

That’s exactly what the Lady Knights did. Just like two years ago, Queens won four straight games to capture the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament and earn the No. 3 seed in the Northeast Region.

“I wasn’t confident,” said DeMasters, who is also chairman of the NCAA selection committee, of his team’s chances to make the NCAAs, even winning the NYCAC tournament. “I knew we had to jump over a bunch of teams. I knew we had a chance. The numbers were so close that the eight, nine and 10 teams all had shots.

“I just told the girls we still had a chance and to go out and do the best they could,” he added. “That’s what they did.”

Queens started its run Friday with a 3-2 win over Southampton, scoring twice in the seventh inning to advance in the double-elimination tournament. Danielle Battaglia doubled in the tying run and scored the winning run on Stephanie Santoro’s double, helping Emily Lucas to the win.

“We did everything we did to lose,” DeMasters said. “We caught a break in the end.”

The win moved Queens into a showdown with C.W. Post, the No. 2 seed in the Northeast Region. But pitcher Lauren Wells was virtually unhitable for the Lady Knights, giving up a bunt single in the first and nothing else the rest of the way.

Jessica Blake provided the offense in the win with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI.

“Lauren Wells pitched perhaps the best game anybody has pitched for us all year,” DeMasters said.

Later on Saturday Queens took on Dowling, the region’s No. 1 seed, and Queens triumphed again behind Lucas, winning 8-3. Cheryl Cosenzo had three hits, including two doubles and an RBI, while Danielle Battaglia was 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

The win pushed Queens into the finals against Adelphi, which had eliminated Dowling earlier on Sunday. Again Queens played just well enough to win, scratching out two runs on a double by Lucas and a single by Alexis Amodeo that would be all Lucas would need. Almost.

With a runner on third and two outs in the seventh, Adelphi’s Katie Omilak laced a shot to the gap that seemed destined to even the score before Kathy Blake made an all-out diving grab to end the game.

“It made it more exciting to win that way,” DeMasters said. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

Queens, seeded third in the Northeast, will face No. 2 seed Dowling in the first round of the regionals at Merrimack College in Massachusetts Friday. Merrimack, the No. 1 seed, will play No. 4 American International.

“I think our girls feel real confident,” the coach said.

Queens is now 30-17 on the season.

Notes: Cosenzo and Kathy Blake were both named first team-all conference, with Natalie D’Amico, Wells and Battaglia being named to the second team. Jessica Blake was voted NYCAC Freshman of the Year.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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