West Windsor, N.J. – The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) softball team is entering the Region 19 playoffs this weekend as the no. 1 seed. In their first game, the Vikings will face no. 4-seeded Burlington CC in the double elimination tournament hosted by the County College of Morris April 25 and 26. (In a March 31 doubleheader, the Vikings beat Burlington 6-4 and 3-1.) The other two teams in the tournament are no. 2 Del Tech Owens, last year’s Region 19 champs, and no. 3 Morris CC.
The winner of the Region 19 Tournament advances to the District Tournament, which will be hosted by Region 19 this year. The District winner then advances to the Division II World Series in Clinton, MS.
Head Coach Ryan Zegarski has relied on a combination of veteran leadership and young talent to lead the Vikings this season. Most games feature five freshman and five sophomore starters, a combination that is proving to be a potent force. The Vikings are currently 23-9 and ranked 20th in National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Softball.
The Vikings' explosive offensive output has been key to their success thus far, with six Viking players finishing the regular season batting over .300 or better. Sophomore centerfielder Dana Knapp (Langhorne, PA/Neshaminy) is hitting .443, including eight doubles, five triples and six home runs, with a .852 slugging percentage and .566 on base percentage. Freshman catcher and third baseman Rachael Levach (Burlington, NJ/Florence Twp.) is hitting .424 and is the team leader in RBIs, with 39 on the season to go along with a team-high 11 doubles.
Freshman outfielder Jennifer Walker (Levittown, PA/Neshaminy) has returned from injury to bat .369 in the leadoff spot for the Vikings and freshman utility player Casey Murphy (Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough) is batting .323. Sophomore infielders Lyndsey Buckley (Hamilton, NJ/Nottingham) and Robin Antozzeski (Bordentown, NJ/Bordentown Regional) have closed the regular season on a strong note, with Buckley hitting .309 and Antozzeski hitting .303. Sophomore first baseman Jessica Fremgen (Hamilton, NJ/Nottingham) has also hit well, especially late in the season and is just off the .300 mark, batting .297.
Coach Zegarski is counting on his players to continue their strong offense and will look to his pitching staff to step up on the mound as well this weekend. Sophomore Kaitlyn Cegielski (Stockton, NJ/Hunterdon Central) is 9-3 on the season with a 2.53 ERA, but has been battling an injury and is questionable for the postseason. Also capable of strong performances are sophomore Kiele Eichlin (Milford, NJ/Delaware Valley Regional) and freshman Megan Mount (Frenchtown, NJ/Delaware Valley Regional). Eichlin has 61 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched and is 7-3 on the season with a 2.87 ERA. Mount has mostly pitched in a relief role this season, totalling 48 strikeouts in 46 innings.
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