Women's Softball Team Makes Huge Strides in 2005
April was the Vikings’ strong month as they posted a record of 16-4. Then came the road to the Region 19 championship – a very long road for the Vikings. After losing to Lackawanna 5-3 and 3-2 in a doubleheader on April 13, the women found themselves heading back up the Pennsylvania Turnpike to face the very same team in the “play-in round” to qualify for the tournament in a best two-out-of-three series. The Vikings lost the first game, 6-3, but came back to win the next one, 14-9, in ten innings, followed by a solid 10-5 win. “We scored five runs at the top of the first,” Zegarski recalled. “It set the pace for the win.”
With momentum on their side, the women moved on to the double-elimination Region 19 tournament on May 6. Going in as the no. 4 seed, they pulled a 2-1 upset over no. 1 Del Tech Owens, a team they had lost to twice during the regular season. Then they beat no. 2 Del Tech Stanton 3-2 in 11 innings.
“It was very intense,” Zegarski recalled. “Whether you are up by 10 or by 1, you have to stay focused. We often had trouble getting that last out. There was always an adventure, or one small mistake that would be compounded into two or three. Having been a player, I know what the girls felt like. As a coach, you have to stand back. You prepare your team and then watch them play.”
Mercer next faced newcomer Mercyhurst CC, from Erie, PA. After a rain-out on May 7, they played the game the following day, losing 2-1. In a tournament that requires double elimination, the teams had to meet again, but with more rain, the tournament concluded without a winner.
Thus, both Mercer and Mercyhurst headed up to Northeast District championship at Dean College in Masssachusetts to complete their unfinished business. With yet another rain-out on May 14, the game was finally played on May 15, with the Viking losing 3-1. “It was devastating,” Zegarski said. “It was more than just a loss; it was the end of our season. For some of our sophomores it was the end of their playing careers. That’s hard.”
Still, the Vikings know how far they came this season. The team was well served by co-captains Jill Benningfield and Kristin Lup. Four players made all-region: pitcher Ashley McHenry, catcher Dana Pallotta, who received the most votes, outfielder Kristin Kuzma, and shortstop Jill Benningfield. Also contributing were Lisa Dey, Crystal Everett, Adria Frascella, Cyndi Fregoni, Ingrid Measor, Samantha White and Danielle Zaletski.
Losing nine sophomores, Zegarski will have plenty of positions to fill next season. He was assisted this season by Regina Brown and former player Katie Banas.