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Saxons advance to NCAA Regional final
5/16/10

ITHACA, NY – The Alfred University softball team beat Lebanon Valley, 4-1, Sunday afternoon in the consolation final at the NCAA Regional at Ithaca College. AU, the fourth-seed in the eight-team regional, advances to the tournament final, needing two wins over the Bombers to earn a berth in the NCAA Division III national championships next weekend.

If AU (37-7) beats Ithaca at 2 p.m. today, the Saxons would need to defeat the Bombers again at 10 a.m. Monday to win the region and advance to the eight-team NCAA Division III College World Series, May 21-25 at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Ithaca (33-13), unbeaten in the double-elimination regional, needs only one win to earn a trip to the national championships.

Against third-seeded Lebanon Valley, AU (37-7) opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and added two more in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. In the first, pitcher Nicole Hedrick (Albany, NY/Catholic Central) led off with a single and stole second. After an infield single by third baseman Molly Shepherd (Camillus, NY/West Genesee) and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, first baseman Ashley Passaro (Long Beach, NY/Long Beach) scored Hedrick on a sacrifice fly to right. A Lebanon Valley error allowed Shepherd to score.

Leftfielder Angela Netta (Rahway, NJ/Mother Seton Regional) opened the fifth with a single, advancing to third on an error, and designated player Hana Gross (Union, NJ/Union) walked and left for pinch runner Chelsey Cary (Corfu, NY/Pembroke). Netta scored and Cary advanced to second on a wild pitch; Cary advanced to third on another wild pitch and scored on a Hedrick groundout.

Lebanon Valley (34-13) scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth. Katie Freeman hit a two-out double and pinch runner Steph Hulme scored on a two-out single by Steffani Secola, advancing home on an AU outfield error. Other than that small blemish, Hedrick was solid, scattering seven hits and striking out three to improve to 19-3 on the season. The 19 wins are a new AU single-season record, breaking the tie she held with Cary (18 wins this year) and former Saxon Ilana Price (18, in 2007).

Shepherd finished with two hits and scored a run; Hendrick had a hit, scored once and drove in a run; and Netta had a hit and scored a run. Freeman led Lebanon Valley with a pair of hits.

Val Mallizia started for Lebanon Valley and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits while striking out four in 4 1/3 innings. Laura Snyder took over with one out in the fifth and tossed 1 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball, striking out four.