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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

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NCAA Preview
softball seniors play on

There’s nothing quite like the period between a college senior’s last final exam and Commencement. Old responsibilities out of the way and the dreaded “real world” still a few days away, it’s a great time to relax, hang out with friends – and maybe play some softball.

That’s kind of the position Samantha Crist and RiRi Ferrigno of the Muhlenberg softball Muhlenberg softball team find themselves in when they travel to Ramapo for the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

After going 8-28 last year, the Mules could hardly have anticipated reaching this point. But now that they’re there, they are going to get the most out of it.

“We hope to have a lot of fun,” said Crist. “We don’t have any great expectations. We already achieved our goals of finishing over .500 and making the conference playoffs. We’re just out there to play softball and compete.”

“It is icing on the cake, but we’re out there to go as far as we can,” added Ferrigno. “The girls on this team are very competitive, and I’m looking forward to seeing that come out.”

Muhlenberg (19-16), seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament, will first compete against William Paterson, the champion of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, tomorrow at 4:00. The Pioneers (32-7) are ranked 16th in Division III.

Also in the double-elimination tournament at Ramapo are No. 22 Moravian and two teams that received votes in the top-25 poll, Messiah and Rowan. The Mules are one of only two teams in the entire 59-team NCAA field that doesn’t have at least 20 wins.

“They might have the rankings and all NCAA softball these great stats, but it’s really just a matter of who shows up that day,” said Ferrigno. “If you look at the games [against highly ranked teams], the majority of the time we’ve been right with them.”

This year, Muhlenberg played six games against teams that are also in the NCAA field. Although the Mules lost all six, four were one-run games. Last year, Muhlenberg opened the season by beating Wartburg, a perennial top-10 team that eventually was eliminated from the NCAAs in two close games by national champion Wis.-Whitewater.

The records haven’t meant much historically, either. The last time Muhlenberg was in the NCAA Tournament, in 2003, it was also at Ramapo as the fifth seed in a field of six. The Mules came in with a record of 14-19 but went 2-2, losing by two runs to Ramapo (33-5 at the time) and by three runs to Salisbury (39-4-1).

The winner of the tournament at Ramapo meets up the winners of seven other first-round sites for the Division III finals, scheduled for May 15-19 at Montclair State.
Click here for the tournament Web site.

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