The softball team has clinched a playoff berth in the 2016 State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament.
New Paltz has secured the No. 5 seed in the double-elimination tournament and will face SUNY Plattsburgh, the No. 2 seed, Thursday, May 5 at 11 a.m. in Cortland.
The Hawks finished their regular season with an overall record of 18-17 and 9-9 tally in SUNYAC play.
Hawks head coach Brittany Robinson said the team is better when they play away, so being the road team will be beneficial against Plattsburgh.
“When we play at home, especially playing defense first, we just lose a lot of focus hitting-wise,” she said. “Being on offense first really helps us. Being a lower seed going into the tournament is not a disadvantage for us. It’s actually to our advantage.”
The Cardinals hold an advantage over the Hawks in the offensive category of batting average. Plattsburgh holds a .287 average compared to New Paltz’s .266. On the basepaths, the Hawks hold a 66-51 stolen base lead.
On the defensive side, the Hawks edge the Cardinals with a .948 fielding percentage to a .944. On the mound, New Paltz holds the upper hand in ERA (3.62 to 3.77).
Going into the final day of the season, the Hawks were a game ahead of both Buffalo State and SUNY Oswego.
In the first of two home doubleheaders to end the season, the Hawks split against SUNY Oswego on Friday, April 29.
During the first game, Hawks fourth-year pitcher Katie Rutcofsky struck out a career-high-tying 10 batters, but her counterpart, Oswego third-year pitcher Brittney Sears, ended up throwing a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts to give the Lakers the 2-0 victory. Rutcofsky struck out 10 once previously this season during the March 30 nonconference win against The Sage Colleges.
The Lakers tallied a run in both the third and fifth inning. First-year shortstop Erin Sweeney knocked in both runs for her team, giving Oswego the 2-0 win.
In the nightcap, Hawks second-year right fielder Danielle Bruno singled to right field and plated both third-year center fielder Fallon Spriggs and Rutcofsky in the home half of the first inning. That would be the only runs the Hawks needed to earn the 2-0 shutout victory. Hawks third-year pitcher Taylor Corwin recorded the complete-game win on the mound, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out three on 68 pitches.
The Hawks dropped both games of a doubleheader to SUNY Cortland, the No. 1 seed in the conference, the next day.
In the first game, Cortland put up four runs in the first inning. New Paltz retaliated with a run of their own with an RBI single in their half of the inning, as Spriggs singled up the middle. This scored Hawks second-year left fielder Julia Perhacs and was Spriggs’ team-leading 22nd RBI. The Hawks would bring the score to 4-3 in the fourth.
The Red Dragons would record runs in the fifth and sixth innings and take the 6-3 victory. Later that day, the Hawks only mustered three hits as they were shutout by the Red Dragons 3-0.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, the Red Dragons hit solo home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively from fourth-year co-captain Erin Wolstenhome and fourth-year co-captain Diane Cork. Cork hit her team-leading sixth home run.
To prepare for the playoffs, Robinson said to win, the team needs timely hitting, that they have not gotten all season long, in playoffs.
“The real issue is not us getting on base, the issue is us scoring runners once they are on base,” she said. “If we can get over that mental block of scoring runners, than we are going to win some ballgames.”
Last season, the Hawks needed to win one of their final games of the season against The College at Brockport during a doubleheader to make the postseason. However, they dropped both during the last weekend of the season.
Robinson said earning a playoff spot this season is a better feeling because of last year’s results.
“We have just as good a chance winning the tournament as anybody,” she said. “We are in a good spot to win a bunch of games in the tournament and if we get back to playing Cortland again they should probably watch out.”