Cortland softball mounts four-game comeback to win NCAA Regional

Cortland seniors (left to right) Chelsea Palma, Niki Barbato, Mikayla Shade, Kaleigh Churchill, Alexandrea Flint, Jamie Lachall and Rosie Phillips after winning the NCAA regional title at Cortland (Darl Zehr Photography)

CORTLAND, N.Y. – The Cortland softball team completed its four-game comeback through the loser's bracket with two wins over Widener University to capture the title at the four-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III Cortland, New York Regional.

The Red Dragons (33-13), who opened the tournament with a loss to Widener Friday, defeated the Pride in Sunday's first game, 10-2 in five innings, to force a winner-take-all final. Cortland won that contest, 7-2, and will face St. John Fisher in a best-of-three super regional on Friday-Saturday, May 19-20, at a site to be announced. The winner of the super regional will advance to the eight-team NCAA Division III Championship Series May 25-30 in Oklahoma City.

Senior second baseman Rosie Phillips (Geneva/Our Lady of Mercy) was named the regional Most Outstanding Player after batting .500 (9-for-18) with two doubles, seven RBI and four runs in five games. She went 2-for-3 with a double in Sunday's first win and was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the title game.

Joining Phillips on the all-tournament team were: Cortland's Skyler Hoyt (Endicott/Union-Endicott), Mikayla Shade (Glenmont/Bethlehem), Kaleigh Churchill (Camillus/West Genesee) and Ericka Sadowski (Liverpool); Widener's Ally Horvath and Taylor Allen; Messiah's Emily Quatrale and Carrie Fix; and Kristin Frost from Johnson & Wales.

Hoyt hit .333 (5-for-15) with three homers, a double, eight RBI and four runs during the tournament. Shade batted .500 (8-for-16) with three doubles, a triple, an RBI and six runs scored along with three walks. Churchill hit .412 (7-for-17) with a double and five RBI and handled 20 fielding chances (nine putouts, 11 assists) without an error. Sadowski batted .429 (6-for-14) with a double, two RBI and three runs.

Regional Most Outstanding Player Rosie Phillips (far left) and Cortland's other all-tournament selections (left to right)
Skyler Hoyt, Kaleigh Churchill, Ericka Sadowski and Mikayla Shade, along with Widener's Taylor Allen and Ally Horvath (Darl Zehr Photography)

Cortland 10, Widener 2 (5 inn.)

Cortland scored six runs in the top of the second and added two runs each in the third and fourth innings to go up 10-0. With two outs and the bases loaded in the second, Sadowski hit a two-run double down the left field line, with a third run scoring on an error. Andrea Schoonmaker (Marlboro) and Phillips followed with back-to-back RBI doubles, and Niki Barbato (East Meadow/Holy Trinity) added an RBI single through the left side.

Hoyt's two-run homer off the scoreboard in left increased the lead to 8-0 in the third, and Phillips singled home two runs in the fourth. Widener (28-13), which was making its first NCAA appearance, broke up Jamie Lachall's (Philadelphia, PA/Sun Valley) shutout bid with two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Olivia Rogers and Liz Antonucci.

Lachall, now 13-7, allowed five hits and two runs in five innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Shade went 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs and Phillips and Sadowski each finished 2-for-3. Horvath was 1-for-2 with a walk for Widener. Alexis Schengrund, who shut out Cortland on a three-hitter Friday, took the loss after allowing four hits, two walks and six runs in an inning and two thirds.

Cortland 7, Widener 2 (Championship Game)

Cortland opened the game with two runs in the bottom of the first and never trailed. Schoonmaker and Phillips led off with singles to put runners on first and third. Phillips stole second, and Barbato hit a liner to center for a sac fly to drive home Schoonmaker. With two outs, Churchill hit an RBI single down the left field line.

The game was delayed by rain for more than an hour in the top of the second. When the game resumed, the scored remained 2-0 until the bottom of the third. The Red Dragons loaded the bases with no outs on a Phillips single, an error, and a Shade single. Churchill's RBI single through the right side drove home a run, and Kelly O'Gorman (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa) hit a two-run double to left center to give Cortland a 5-0 advantage.

The lead grew to 7-0 in the fourth. Schoonmaker led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a two-out Shade triple down the left field line. Shade scored two batters later on an O'Gorman single up the middle.

Widener plated two runs in the sixth on back-to-back RBI singles by Antonucci and Allen, but left runners on first and third.

Alexandrea Flint (Dalton/Keshequa) earned the victory to up her record to 11-4. She struck out six, walked one, and scattered nine hits over five and two thirds innings. Sam Van Dorn (Medford/Patchogue-Medford) entered with two outs in the sixth and got a groundout to escape the first-and-third jam, and she allowed only a one-out infield single in the seventh.

Cortland registered 13 hits, led by Churchill's 3-for-4 effort with two RBI. Schoonmaker was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs, O'Gorman went 2-for-4 with three RBI, Shade was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs, and Phillips ended 2-for-4 with two runs.

Horvath started for the Pride and allowed five runs, four earned, in two innings. Schengrund gave up two runs, one earned, on six hits over four innings. Antonucci and Rogers each went 2-for-3 at the plate and Lauren DelRomano was 2-for-4.

Cortland is making its 22nd NCAA tournament appearance, and will be seeking its ninth World Series showing. The Red Dragons were national runner-up in 2013 and fourth in the nation in 2011. The NCAA switched to the regional/super regional format in 2014, and Cortland has hosted four-team regionals each of the last three years. The Red Dragons finished third in the 2015 regional and second in the 2016 regional.

Regional Tournament Web Page

Post-Game Interview With Julie Lenhart, Rosie Phillips and Skyler Hoyt: