Lady Vikings Take Second At National Tournament

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

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, May 18, 2002

Hudson Valley Finishes With 37 Wins, Four All-Tourney Players

Joliet, Illinois, May 18, 2002 – Hudson Valley Community College's softball squad made the most of its first-ever visit to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III national championship tournament, overcoming an early defeat and taking second place. After losing their first game of the tourney, on Friday, the Lady Vikings rebounded by embarking on an improbable two-day, five-game winning streak against the best Division III competition in the nation.

After winning two out of three games on Friday – the first day of the tournament, Thursday, was rained out, forcing teams to endure a packed schedule on Friday and today – Hudson Valley captured two victories this morning to advance to the final round against Brookdale Community College. Brookdale came into the final round undefeated in the tourney, so Hudson Valley needed to beat the New Jersey team twice to earn the national title.

In the first game, at 2 p.m., Christyn Hamel (Averill Park H.S.) tossed a complete-game three-hitter and catcher Sarah Truax (Shenendehowa H.S.) smacked a sixth-inning single, scoring Kimberly Welcome (Cohoes H.S.) and giving the Lady Vikings a 1-0 victory over Brookdale. Game two also was a pitcher's duel, but Brookdale pulled out a 2-0 win despite the valiant efforts of Hudson Valley pitchers Kelly Scott (Schuylerville H.S.) and Kim Prior (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk H.S.), who combined to hold Brookdale to six hits and one earned run.

"I'm so proud of my team," said Chuck Sosnowski, Hudson Valley's coach. "They're true competitors, they never gave up. Four games in one day was just one too many. We ran out of gas. We certainly gave it our best, though."

With the loss, the Lady Vikings finished the tournament and the season as the No. 2 Division III junior college team in the nation, the highest Hudson Valley has ever been ranked in softball. Hamel, Truax, Lindsey Bradt (Bishop Maginn H.S.) and Kiah Narotski (Hoosick Falls H.S.) all earned First Team All-Tournament status.

"It's bittersweet," Sosnowski said. "We wanted to win this thing, but my players have got nothing to hang their heads about. This team is so gutsy. Everybody out here saw a Hudson Valley team that played its heart out every game."

Hudson Valley's four-game day began like this: at 10 a.m. today, the Lady Vikings avenged Friday's loss to Montana's Dawson Community College, using a shutout by Scott to record a 5-0 victory; and at noon, the Lady Vikings scored seven runs in the first inning to down Illinois' College of DuPage, the defending national champions, 10-4. Those wins propelled Hudson Valley into the final round against Brookdale.

"I can't praise this team enough," Sosnowski said. "They focused every game. They hit the ball really well, they pitched really well and they played well in the field. Hudson Valley was very well represented at the national championship tournament. This team proved it belonged here."

Hudson Valley, which featured 12 players on its roster, all hailing from Section II high schools, finished the season with a 37-9 record.

"Hudson Valley's 1994 and '95 softball teams were undefeated in the regular season, but this is the best softball team Hudson Valley has ever had," said Drew Marrochello, Hudson Valley's athletics director, who served as an assistant coach on the '94 and '95 softball squads. "In Chuck Sosnowski, we finally have a coach who understands the high talent level in this area, and the importance of recruiting it. The talent in Section II ranks among the best in the nation, and Chuck's responsible for bringing it together at Hudson Valley. He's a great coach and this is a great team."