Tough Ending to Incredible Season for Women’s Softball Team


The Mercer Softball Team will contemplate "what ifs" for months to come. The women turned their 12-14 mid-season record into a 27-14 triumphant march to the Region 19 tournament. There they battled with the region's best. They opened the tournament on April 28 with a loss to Mercyhurst CC, their nemesis from last season, 7-6 in eight innings. They shook off the loss in the next game, defeating Lackawanna 6-3 to stay alive in the tournament, but in need of three consecutive wins to earn the title and a trip to the Northeast District championship.

Saturday, April 29 started out as a good day for Mercer, as the Vikings defeated Del Tech 4-3 in an 11-inning contest. Then they faced Mercyhurst again, this time coming out victorious 3-2.

There was just one more game to go -- a must-win over Mercyhurst. As in last year's title game, the Vikings couldn't quite get the job done. The score was 1-0 Mercyhurst, with the lone run coming in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"It's tough as a coach. You never want to lose," said Head Coach Ryan Zegarski. "But I will have future years with the team. It’s really hard for the sophomores. They've been with me two years and now it's over. It's hard to accept, especially given the repeat scenario from last year."

Still, the team's accomplishments this season were outstanding. Zegarski notes that both pitchers, Jessica Goodstein and Ashley McHenry, made stellar contributions. Jessica was good all year; Ashley came on strong in the second half. She was a big reason for the 15 consecutive wins."

The day after: outfielder Danielle Zaletski (left) and infielder Katy Hubbard reflect on their softball season with coach Ryan Zegarski.
Sophomore softball players were honored at an Athlete Appreciation Breakfast on May 4. Pictured, back row, left to right, Ashley McHenry, Danielle Zaletski, Head Coach Ryan Zegarski, Crystal Everett, Katie Ashe, Krystal Schnarr and Director John Simone; front row, Cindy Fregoni and Jill Benningfield. Not pictured Jessica Goodstein.

Other stand-outs included captain and short stop Jill Benningfield, and sophomore outfielder Crystal Everett, who had a "knack for drama," according to Zegarski. "She always came through in the clutch and rose to the occasion, getting big hits when we needed them." Freshman infielder, slugger Katy Hubbard, led the team with 46 RBIs, while freshman outfielder Ashley Williams was the team's lead hitter (.442), who went 14 for 23 in the tournament (.608 average).

Zegarski notes that early in the season, the team was losing lots of close games. "We went back to the fundamentals -- pitching and defense. We started doing the small things right that help you win games. This is a team game. It’s not about one individual. But in every game someone different made the great play to save the game."

Zegarski reflected that as the team prepared for games, he wasn't always sure they would win, but he did know one thing. "I knew I would get 110 percent from this group. They were very dedicated. I'm really proud of them."

Williams was named to the NJCAA All-American team, the first MCCC softball player since 1989. Williams hit .471 with 64 hits including 7 doubles and 2 triples and drove in 18 runs. She also excelled defensively with a fielding average of .944. She will be a team leader next season, as the Vikings look to replace six starting sophomores.

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