MCCC Softball Team Faces Stiff Competition and
Stiff Wind in Region 19 Triumph


West Windsor, N.J. -- They played five games in two days in high winds and cold temperatures, without even the minimal protection of a dugout at the County College of Morris softball field. To a woman, they ended the weekend wind burned, fatigued - and elated.

The Mercer women played some of their best softball of the season, as they earned the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 19 title on May 9. For the second time in his six years as head coach, Ryan Zegarski will take his team to the NJCAA Division II World Series, to be held this year in Bloomington, IL, from May 20-22.

Zegarski sums up the weekend's action in one word - "unbelievable."

Despite going into the tournament as the no. 4 seed after Burlington, Del Tech and Morris, Zegarski was cautiously optimistic about the Vikings' chances to bring home the title. He noted that the team's regular season contests were competitive against all three teams - even no. 1 Burlington. And he had faith in how far his players had come.

In the double elimination tournament, Mercer started off well, beating Burlington 2-1 on May 8. Later that day the women faced Morris and lost 3-2. "After we lost the second game, I was concerned, no doubt," Zegarski said.

Region 19 champs, back row, left to right: Head Coach Ryan Zegarski, Amanda Myers-Morales,Angela Parascando,Alyssa Becker,Beth Rochon,Heather Canulli,Kelly Hancarik, Brianna McInnis,Ryan Niatas and Assistant Coach Freihaut; front row, left to right, Kirsten Edinger,Jenna Berger,Jessica Maciolek,Kristine Funk and Jenna Comiski.
Pitcher Jenna Berger was named tournament MVP.
Jess Maciolek at bat

But the Vikings had much more softball to play the following day - approximately nine hours worth, it turned out. First, they beat Burlington for a second time 8-4, eliminating them from the tournament. Then they faced Morris. Winning their first game 14-6, they followed it with an 8-5 win to seal the championship.

According to Zegarski, it was a total team effort. Numerous players came through at key moments. Ace pitcher Jenna Berger pitched 27 out of a possible 35 innings and was named the tournament MVP. She was also successful at bat, hitting 8 for 18 (.444), with 4 doubles, 8 runs scored and 4 RBIs. Shortstop Jess Maciolek (.375) went 7 for 18 over the weekend, scoring 8 runs and earning 3 RBIs. Second baseman Kirsten Edinger hit .450, collecting 9 RBIs, including 3 in the championship game, and scoring 7 runs. Rightfielder Angela Parascando went 7 for 17 (.411), with 3 doubles and 6 RBIs, and centerfielder Alyssa Becker hit 8 for 21 (.380), with 3 doubles, 10 runs scored and 5 RBIs.

Zegarski also singled out back-up pitcher Beth Rochon, who did a solid job in her eight innings on the mound, as well as catcher Amanda Myers-Morales. "Amanda is the consummate team player," he says.
"She took a beating behind the plate, but never complained."

The Vikings end the regular season 31-12.

The women are enjoying a few days' rest - and letting the wind die down - before resuming practice for their trip to Illinois.

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