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The Lady Generals are National Champions! » Herkimer Generals

The Lady Generals are National Champions!

Rochester, MN – The Generals became the NJCAA 2013 National Champions late on Saturday evening. They did it with a perfect 4-0 record in the national tournament. They began the feat by soundly defeating Anne Arundel CC of Maryland 12-1 and Rock Valley College of Illinois 12-2 on Thursday. They completed the conquest by winning over tenacious Dutchess CC of New York 6-5 on Saturday afternoon and by defeating highly-regarded Brookdale CC of New Jersey 5-2 on Saturday night.

Now the Generals have an almost-perfect season record of 43-2. They also own HCCC softball's first-ever national championship.

The Thursday wins were impressive, with the Generals scoring a dozen runs against both opponents. The entire team was hitting their opponents' good pitching, the Herkimer pitchers were very effective in the circle, and the team's defense was solid. They were on a roll. Then the weather changed.

The skies over southeastern Minnesota darkened, and over an inch and a half of rain soaked the tournament fields. The entire Friday schedule had to be moved to Saturday.

The Dutchess game

The Falcons of Dutchess CC were the Cinderella team of the tournament. They were seeded eighth in the eight-team event, but they upset the #1-seeded team, Brookdale, and then they defeated the #4 seed, Monroe CC. The Falcons were playing very well, and they earned a berth in the Saturday game for undefeated teams – the game with Herkimer.

Dutchess took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. They added another run in the third. The Generals finally got on the board in the home half of the fourth, but two more Dutchess runners crossed the plate in the fifth. The Generals entered the sixth inning trailing 5-1.

Samantha Smaldone opened the sixth with a single. Stephanie Siriano lined out to left field, but Delaney Buckley singled. Tina Karaqi slashed an RBI-single, and the Generals' comeback was under way. Ashley Sterritt walked, and Alyssa Balfe brought in two runs with a line-drive single to right field. The score was 5-4.

Herkimer left fielder and #9 hitter Courtney Gumprecht then lashed a critical hit. Gumprecht hit a line drive to left, scoring Sterritt and evening the score at 5-5.

The game remained tied going into the bottom of the seventh. Steph Siriano led off with a line-drive single to right. She advanced to third on a ground ball and with some alert base running. Shortstop Karaqi lashed a shot into right field, Siriano scored, and the Generals had a huge, come-from-behind 6-5 win.

The Falcons deserve great credit. They entered the national tournament as the #8 seed, but they defeated seeds #1 and #4, and they took #2-seeded Herkimer to the final inning before losing by one run.

Dutchess 012 020 0 5-10-1

Herkimer 000 104 1 6-10-0

The championship game

Herkimer had lost only two games all season, and one of those losses was to Brookdale. That game was played at Myrtle Beach, SC back in mid-March. The Jersey Blues won 3-0. Head Coach PJ Anadio later remarked that the March game with Brookdale was the Generals' only poorly-played game of the season. They were ready to atone for that early-season outing on Saturday.

Anadio handed the ball to pitcher Toni Secreti, who had already proven herself to be among Division III's top pitchers. She was sharp throughout the game, walking only two batters.

HCCC was the visiting team in the late-evening contest. Karaqi singled in the top of the second inning. She had a day to remember, stroking six hits in eight at-bats on Saturday. Sterritt singled, and then Balfe laid down a beautiful bunt single. Gumprecht hit a sacrifice fly to left field and Karaqi scored. 1-0 Herkimer.

Karaqi singled again in the third, with a line drive to center that moved Buckley to second. Sterritt nailed a shot to deep left that hit high off the fence and ended up as a two-RBI double. 3-0 Herkimer.

The Jersey Blues also scored a run in the third. A sacrifice fly made it 3-1.

Herkimer's heroic Siriano led off the fifth with a home run to left. Karaqi then matched the feat, and HCCC led 5-1.

Brookdale scored with a couple of singles and good base running in the fifth. 5-2.

The tension built throughout the final innings. The seventh inning began. The Generals were just three outs from the championship.

The first Brookdale batter walked. The next batter sent a shot into left where Gumprecht made a beautiful catch. A single, a ground out, and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. A double would have likely tied the game and a homer would have won it for Brookdale. However, the final Brookdale batter popped up, Herkimer first baseman Balfe settled under it, and the game was over. The tension was over. The Generals were the national champions.

Herkimer 012 020 0 5-9-2

Brookdale 001 010 0 2-8-2

All-Tournament awards

Four Generals – center fielder Siriano, pitcher Secreti, third baseman Sterritt, and right fielder Rebekah Kitchen – were named to the All-Tournament Team, and shortstop Karaqi was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.

Click here for a complete listing of the individual awards.

Nick Scribe – and staff reports

Softball 5 18 2013 2013team 

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