Softball Drops First Game at NCAA Tournament

Plattsburgh, NY (5/8/08) - Sophomore Katie Finch (Amsterdam/Broadalbin-Perth) threw a four-hit shutout as Cortland, the fourth seed and ranked 22nd in Division III, defeated top seed and fifth-ranked Montclair State, 2-0, in a winner's bracket game at the seven-team NCAA Division III Softball Regional hosted by SUNY Plattsburgh.

Cortland (36-11) is now 2-0 in the double-elimination regional and gets a day off before playing Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in the winner's bracket final. The Red Dragons will face either third-seeded St. John Fisher or second-seeded Endicott College, which each won its opening-round game Thursday. Montclair (42-5), the New Jersey Athletic Conference champion, will face Springfield College in an elimination game Friday at noon. The Red Hawks had received a bye prior to their matchup with Cortland.

Finch, who pitched five and two-third innings and was credited with a save earlier in the day in a 14-5 win over Eastern Connecticut State, improved her record to 19-7 with the win over Montclair. She struck out six batters and walked three, one intentionally. She outdueled Montclair's Carolyn McCrea (Wharton, NJ / Jefferson), who gave up seven hits and two walks and struck out five in six and one-third innings.

The game was scoreless until the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Emily Ringen (Pompton Plains, NJ/Pequannock) doubled with one out and pinch-runner Rose Morrison (Miller Place) scored on a double to right by senior Shara Evanter (Commack). Evanter, who finished 2-for-3, moved to third on a Crystal Carlson (Lancaster/Iroquois) single but was stranded after a strikeout.

The Red Dragons added a big insurance run in the seventh. Freshman Donnalyn Cross (Binghamton/Chenango Valley) singled to left center with one out. She took second on an error, stole third on a delayed steal and scored on a wild pitch.

Cortland had a prime scoring opportunity go by the boards in the second. Evanter led off with a double and Bethany Williamson (Lyons Falls/South Lewis) also doubled, although pinch-runner Maria Blum (Alden) had to hold at third base. Blum, however, was picked off third by Montclair catcher Kacie Neurouter (Wayne, NJ / Wayne Valley) and the next batter struck out. Following a walk, McCrea induced a flyout to end the inning.

Montclair left two runners on base in three of the last four innings. In the fourth, Leslie Gonzalez (North Bergen, NJ / North Bergen) singled and Jennifer Jimenez (Linden, NJ / Linden) walked to start the inning. After a lineout, Maureen Shockley (Magnolia, NJ/ Triton) flied out to right, with the runners tagging to second and third. Finch got the next hitter to strike out to end the threat. In the fifth, Kelly Nance doubled with one out. Following a pop-up, Finch intentionally walked Jackie Ferranti (Bergenfield, NJ / Bergenfield) and got the next hitter to ground out to first.

The Red Hawks' final threat came in the bottom of the seventh. Kelly Karp (Edison, NJ / Edison) singled up the middle to lead off the inning and advanced to second after a foul out to the catcher. The next hitter grounded out to short, but a single by pinch hitter Cheryl Bodak (South River, NJ / South River) put the tying runs on base. A lineout to center by Ferranti, however, ended the game.