Union softball team has good balance

This season’s Union College softball team shines in all three major facets of the sport — pitching,
PHOTOGRAPHER:

This season’s Union College softball team shines in all three major facets of the sport — pitching, hitting and fielding.

With no apparent weakness, the Dutchwomen are setting their sights on returning to the NCAA Division III playoffs, where they competed from 2003 through 2006, before failing to secure a berth last season.

“In some years, we relied on pitching, but that’s not the case this year,” said head coach Peter Brown, whose Dutchwomen are 6-0 in the Liberty League and

27-4 overall. “These kids are good at every aspect of the game. We’re very balanced. We hit, field and pitch well. I’d probably say we hit the best, but we are also excellent fielders, and we have several very good pitchers. Our pitchers aren’t overpowering in terms of speed, but they are not slow, either.”

Although Union didn’t receive its fifth straight NCAA playoff bid a year ago, the Dutchwomen still finished 25-9 in the regular season and 28-9 overall after sweeping to the ECAC Upstate New York championship.

“We graduated eight seniors

after that 2006 season, and although we didn’t get into the NCAAs, I still thought we had a fantastic season, because we won the ECACs. That gave this team quite a lift going into this season,” said Brown.

Megan Kaknis, a first baseman/third baseman, tops the Dutchwomen in RBI with 36 and is tied with third baseman Ashley Kovack in home runs with four. Kovack is second on the team in RBI with 30, followed by outfielder Lindsay Larabee (25), shortstop Michelle Rogers (22), catcher Alexandra King (18) and outfielder Bridget Graham (18).

As a team, Union bats .395. Among players who have started at least 20 games, the top hitters are Rogers (.461), Kaknis (.460), Graham (.438), Larabee (.431),

Kovack (.423), catcher Catherine Kielb (.379) and second baseman Megan Bordino (.351).

“Kielb is probably the best catcher, both offensively and defensively, that I’ve seen all year, and Rogers is a great player at shortstop,” said Brown. “Kaknis is also very strong at first base. When we field well, we usually win pretty handily, but if we kick it around, it becomes a ball game. We’re going to score a lot of runs with this team. Our lineup, 1 through 9, has no weak link.”

Union’s pitching staff has limited opponents to a .232 batting average. When Schuylerville’s Tiffany Ippoliti (3-1, 2.72) got injured, Brown turned to left-hander Ginni Sack, a sophomore from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, and freshman Catherine Ferrara to take over the staff. Sack is 18-3 with a 1.62 earned run average, while Ferrara is 6-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

“As the year has progressed, Ginni has turned out to be our top pitcher,” said Brown. “When Tiffany got hurt, it necessitated using Ginni more than we would have liked. She has a pretty good drop pitch. You’re not going to see too many fly balls when she’s on the mound. As far as Ferrara is concerned, we didn’t know what to expect from a freshman, but she’s 6-0, and that’s a bonus.”

Union hosts SUNY-Oswego in a non-league game today and takes on visiting Rochester in a double-header Saturday. If the Dutchwomen beat the Yellowjackets, they wrap up the Liberty League title.

WHAT THEY’RE DOING

u Albany Academy graduate and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake native Jordan DiNola, a senior defender on the Navy lacrosse team, has been named the Patriot League’s Defensive Player of the Year. The team captain and three-year starter anchors the nation’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense. He is a two-time All-American and one of just 22 players named a Tewaaraton

Trophy candidate, which is equiv-alent to the Heisman Trophy in college football.

u University at Albany’s men’s lacrosse team (4-1 America East Conference, 7-7 overall) climbed back to the .500 mark with a 10-7 win over Stony Brook Saturday night at John Fallon Field. The Great Danes, who have won 19 of their last 20 home games, earned the second seed for the America East Conference tournament, which begins Thursday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Great Danes will take on third-seeded Stony Brook.

u UAlbany’s Jodi Battaglia and Nikki Branchini (Guilderland) were named to the America East Conference women’s lacrosse all-championship team. Kayla Best (Guilderland) extended her scoring streak to 30 consecutive games in last Friday’s championship tourn­ament semifinal loss to Boston University. Best finished with 45 goals, the fifth-best single-season total in school history.

u Beginning in 2010, the winner of the Northeast Conference, the league that UAlbany competes in, will gain an automatic entry into the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The NEC champion will also be eligible for access into the NCAA playoffs this year and next year, if it meets specifications of the bridge program.

u RPI head baseball coach Karl Steffen won his 600th career game Saturday during the Red Hawks’ double-header split with the

University of Rochester.

u Siena College women’s golfer Katelyn Mannix was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s golfer of the month for April. Mannix, who also won the award in March, was third ind­ividually in the Bowling Green State Falcon Invitational. She also was in the top half of the field at the Hoya Women’s Invitational and the Columbia Rore-EE Invitational.

u Daniele Cherniak, a 46-year-old research professor at RPI, won the women’s division at the Hogeye Marathon in Fayetteville, Ark. Cherniak, a Cohoes resident, clocked a time of 3:36.16 to win by more than five seconds over Fayetteville’s Allison Jumper.

u Former SUNY-Cobleskill head lacrosse coach Stan Nevins will be inducted into the NJCAA Lacrosse Hall of Fame May 9. Nevins started the Fighting Tigers’ lacrosse program and guided the college’s powerhouse squads of the 1970s and 1980s. During his 22-year

career, he compiled a 184-66 record, and captured two Mountain Valley Conference titles, eight NJCAA

Region III championships and three national runner-up finishes. He was named the NJCAA National Coach of the Year in both 1976 and 1980. Also a SUNY-Cobleskill Athletic Hall of Famer, Nevins spent 22 years as the college’s head wrestling coach, where he had a winning percentage of .845.

u Broadalbin-Perth graduate Katie Finch of SUNY-Cortland won her second straight SUNYAC pitcher of the week award recently when she tossed a pair of one-hit shutouts and extended her consecutive scoreless innings streak to 33.

u Schenectady’s Elissa Center of the Mount Holyoke crew team was named to the All New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference all-conference team

u The Siena College men’s club volleyball team won the Division II bronze medal at the National Campus Championship Series National Intramural Recreation Sports Assoc­iation tournament in Dallas. Local players on the team included Chuck Abel of Clifton Park and James Boswell of Brunswick. The team was coached by Chris Lindquist of Ballston Spa.

u Keene State senior Jennifer Adams (Saratoga Springs) was named the Little East Conference women’s indoor track and field

co-athlete of the year. Adams became the 10th Keene State athlete to win a national championship when she captured the 2008 NCAA Div­ision III 5,000-meter championship in 16:58.71. It was her second national title and eighth All-America honor. She posted her season-best time in the Boston University Valentine Classic (16:42.32), and also won the New England Alliance/Little East Conference championship in the 1,000-meter race and mile.

u Union’s Jen Merinder broke her own record in the 400-meter hurdles and won the 100-meter hurdles for the fourth straight meet to lead the Dutchwomen in the non-scoring Union College

Invitational. Merinder finished second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:05.10, breaking the record she set last week at the Hamilton Invitational. She won the

100-meter hurdles in 16.08, extending her season-long unbeaten streak in the event. She teamed up with Rachel Fitz, Julie LaSpina and Bridget Duffy (Guilderland) to qualify for the ECAC champ­ionships in the 4×100 meter relay with a second-place finish time of 52.39. Allison Cuozzo won the

800-meter run, and Josie McDermott won the high jump.

u Also at the Union Invitational, Union’s Jun Ho Ham won the discus in his second straight meet with a distance of 42.37 meters. Dearon Panossian won the 800-meter run with a time of 1:58.98, and the men’s 4×400 relay team placed first with a time of 3:34.33, eclipsing its season’s best by five seconds and qualifying for the ECAC championships. The team is comprised of Colin

Gleason, George Fontaine, Davis Barber and Patricio Guaiquil.

u College of Saint Rose junior right-hander Tracy Chesebrough (Duanesburg) continues her outstanding season for the Golden Knights softball team (17-21 overall, 14-14 Northeast-10). Chesebrough was fourth among NCAA Division II leaders with 11.1 strikeouts per game. She leads the NE-10 with 215 strikeouts. No other NE-10 player has recorded 100. She also paces the league with a .169 batting average against and is in second with a 1.46 ERA.

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