Sports News at MCCC

MCCC Softball Team Ends Season With Trip to NJCAA National Tournament


MCCC Softball Team

The Mercer County Community College softball team celebrates following a sweep of Mercyhurst to capture the District K Championship and earning a spot in the 2018 NJCAA Division II World Series.

WEST WINDSOR – The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) softball team did about everything a team could do this season.

With a record of 37-7-1, the team posted the third-most wins and fewest losses in Mercer history. Nearly half the roster made the All-Region 19 and All-Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) teams, with one player being selected as an All-American. The Vikings swept the Region 19 and District K tournaments, qualifying for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series for the first time since 2011 and ranked 14th in the nation.

“It was another great year for Mercer softball,” said Head Coach Ryan Zegarski. “This team was a hard-working, gritty group, always on the field 40 minutes before the game working on stuff, and on the field after practice – sometimes we had to kick them off and tell them to go home. This was a high-character team.”

While the team failed to advance in the national tournament, the Vikings started the season strong and kept the momentum going right through the District K tournament. After sweeping a season-opener double-header, the Mercer club traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Snowbird Classic, where they were tested against some of the toughest competition they would see during the regular season. Mercer wrapped up the tournament with a 7-2-1 record.

“At the Snowbird we lost our first game and was down 3-0 going into bottom of seventh in the next. We rallied for three to tie and won in extras,” Zegarski said. “Same thing two days later. At this point we started to see that our team was not afraid to come back or hit when it matters most. “

After returning home, the Vikings won 28 of their next 30 games, outscoring opponents by a whopping 229-67 going into the World Series. But that is where the streak ended, as Mercer lost a tough, one-run battle against LSU-Eunice, 4-5, and lost the next day against Madison (Wisc.), 0-10, in the double-elimination tournament to end their season.

“In the World Series you are playing the best-of-the- best,” Zegarski said. “We had our chances, and came up on the other end. Just shows what kind of kids we had not to lose back-to-back until the World Series. Our leaders would not let that happen.”

The Vikings received solid performances up and down the lineup, as evidenced by the fact that six of the 14 players were named for All-Region 19 and/or All-GSAC post-season teams. Leading the pack is pitcher Kaley Wise with 16 wins, 17 complete games, five shutouts, 159 strikeouts, and a 1.54 ERA. Wise’s efforts earned her Region 19 Pitcher of the Year honors, and she was named a third-team NJCAA All-American – the first Viking softball player to earn All-American honors since 2007.

Others named to the Region 19 First Team include Gabi Earley, who hit .416 and slugged .730 with nine home runs and 52 RBI in 46 games, and infielder Sophia Beretski, with a .424 batting average and 30 RBI over 45 games.

Joining them on the All-Region 19 Second Team is infielder Alisha Patel, who hit .403 and scored 38 runs, and designated player Tatum Marshall, who hit .346 and slugged .647 with nine homers. All five were named to the All-GSAC Team. Joining them on the GSAC roster is Vikings infielder Harley Gowdy, who hit .323 and slugged .409, scoring 27 runs and driving in 21 over 43 games. Six of the 11 players named to the All-GSAC Team were Vikings.

“It was a fun journey for this team,” Zegarski said. “We watched a lot of kids develop and mature; it was enjoyable to see. We had a lot of talent this year. They made our staff look good.”

With only four freshmen on the 2018 squad – one of which will graduate in the fall – 2019 might appear to be a rebuilding year for the Vikings. But Zegarski said he has confidence in his returning players, and a strong recruiting class will make it possible to defend Mercer's Region 19 title.

“It will be a brand new team next year with 12 new faces in our program,” Zegarski said. “We are always optimistic, as Mercer softball is always in the hunt for a championship run. “

Zegarski is assisted by Tom DeStefano and John Simone.


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