With a regular
season record of 33-6, members of the MCCC women's softball team
had high hopes for the Region 19 tournament April 25-27. But Head
Coach Ryan Zegarski sounded a cautious note. "It's never easy
at the end. Whoever is playing best at the time is the winner,"
Four worthy opponents faced off - MCCC, Del Tech, Lackawanna and
Burlington. Mercer knew it would have its hands full. The Vikings
lost to Del Tech by one run in both of their regular season contests
and split with Lackawanna and Burlington.
The team proved its mettle on the first day of the double-elimination
contest. In game one against Lackawanna, Mailee Paselio hit her
twelfth home run of the season as Mercer beat Lackawanna 6-5. In
game two against top-seeded Delaware Tech, Paselio also proved crucial
as she hit a single in the eighth inning to drive home Jenna Berger
and Mercer won 4-3.
The following day, the Vikings needed just one more victory against
Del Tech to earn their trip to the 14-team national tournament.
Down 4-0, Jenna Berger tied the game in the seventh with an RBI
single, taking the game into extra innings. Jackie Laird hit a solo
homer at the top of the eighth and the Vikings went ahead 5-4. But
Del Tech came back in the bottom of the inning with a grand slam
that gave them the win.
Next came the
must-win game for both teams, a situation Coach Zegarski had hoped
to avoid. Down 3-0, Mercer could not muster the hits it needed,
despite a valiant effort that included a solo homer by Jackie Laird.
The Vikings lost 6-3.
There was strong emotion all around as the Vikings conceded defeat.
Zegarski said, "They never gave up. They dug deep and gave
everything they had in the battle for the region."
didn't come away with the title, Zegarski is fully satisfied with
the team's accomplishments. "They played good softball all
season," he said, noting their commitment to working hard and
improving their skills, especially batting.
In addition to standout pitchers Jenna Berger (14-1) and Sara Thomas
(19-4), key contributors included sophomore catcher Paselio, outfielder
Becky Elliott and Sara Thomas, who were named to the All-Region
First Team, and infielders Jessica Maciolek and Jackie Laird, who
were named to the All-Region Second Team. Berger, Elliott, Maciolek,
Paselio, and Thomas were also named to the All-Garden State Athletic
Conference First Team.