Top-Seeded Lady Vikings Ready For The Postseason

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 210-4161

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Monday, May 6, 2002

The Lady Vikings ran the table in the Mountain Valley Conference this season, posting an unblemished 16-0 record. Now it's time to see what Hudson Valley Community College's women's softball team can do in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Region III playoffs, which begin Tuesday.

Hudson Valley, ranked seventh in the nation among Division III junior colleges, earned the No. 1 seed in the Region III tournament by posting a 27-2 record in Region III action. Eight teams qualified for the tournament, and the winner advances the Division III national championship.

The seedings for the Region III tourney are as follows:

1. Hudson Valley Community College
2. Monroe Community College
3. Broome Community College
4. Alfred State College
5. Mohawk Valley Community College
6. Adirondack Community College
7. Tompkins-Cortland
8. Schenectady County Community College

The Lady Vikings will play Schenectady (14-8 overall) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, at Averill Park's Classie Lassie Softball Field. The victor advances to the next round of the playoffs, which begins Friday in Corning, N.Y., where the tournament becomes a double-elimination event; the losing squad packs up it uniforms and calls it a season.

"This is one of the better defensive teams I've had in a long time," said second-year coach Chuck Sosnowski, who previously spent five years coaching at Herkimer County Community College. "We're solid all around the field. And that's the goal from here on out; if we continue to play good defense and score a few runs, we should be successful."

Hudson Valley, which made it the final four of last year's Region III tournament, is 28-7 overall this season. The team has won five games in a row and 25 of its last 27 contests.

"We have a lot of team chemistry," said Casey Brinkman (Troy H.S.), whom Sosnowski calls "one of the best right fielders in Region III." In addition to an ability to track down line drives, Brinkman is batting .415 with eight doubles and 25 runs batted in. "We come together during games and give each other a lot of support."

That could be because three of the Lady Vikings, Brinkman included, played for Hudson Valley's 2001-02 basketball team, which won the Region III title and finished seventh in the nation. Brinkman is joined in the outfield by Megan Davis (Greenwich H.S.), who was the hoop team's starting point guard. Additionally, two-time All-American basketball player Lindsey Bradt (Bishop Maginn H.S.) holds down the shortstop spot for Sosnowski.

Davis is batting .339 and Bradt is hitting .361 with five doubles, six triples and 18 RBI.

"Going to the regional tournament for basketball was a lot of fun," Brinkman said. "But doing it twice in one year, for two different sports, that's even better."

While the Lady Vikings have averaged nearly 10 hits per game and batted .373 on the season, Hudson Valley's pitchers – Christyn Hamel (Averill Park H.S.), Kim Prior (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk H.S.) and Kelly Scott (Schuylerville H.S.) – also have been impressive.

Hamel has a 1.21 earned run average to go with her 10-2 won-lost record. She also recorded 65 strikeouts in 69 innings. Prior has a 6-0 record and a 1.16 ERA, and Scott is 9-1 with a 1.72 ERA. Hamel and Scott both posted a no-hitter during the regular season.

"It's a good feeling to have three quality pitchers," Sosnowski said. "I have confidence that any one of them can get the job done. Our team ERA is 1.40, and if we score two or three runs, we've got a shot to win."

The trio of right-handers also are capable of helping the Lady Vikings push those two or three runs across the plate: Hamel leads the club with a .450 batting average and 29 RBI; Scott is batting .392; and Prior is hitting .372.

Additionally, catcher Sarah Truax (Shenendehowa H.S.) and second baseman Kimberly Welcome (Cohoes H.S.) have each proven to be an offensive threat. Welcome is hitting .382 with 19 RBI, and Truax is hitting .348 with 18 RBI and two triples. Jill Fox (Bishop Maginn H.S.) is hitting .400 with 21 RBI. Kiah Narotski (Hoosick Falls), a two-year starter in centerfield, who has a cannon for an arm, is hitting .285 with 10 RBI.

"We're going to take this tournament one game at a time," Brinkman said. "We want to win every game, but we're not going to look too far ahead."