Softball season ends with tourney loss to Merrimack

Laura McLaughlin pitches in her final college game. She finished with a career 1.66 ERA.
Laura McLaughlin pitches in her final college game. She finished with a career 1.66 ERA.

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. — The NYIT softball team's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008 ended in disappointment Friday.

Sixth-seeded Merrimack scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning and eliminated the seventh-seeded Bears, 3-1, at the Rockville Centre Sports Complex.

NYIT had a chance to escape unscathed in the seventh and preserve a tie score, but center fielder Jessica Daniel misplayed Samantha Waskowitz's two-out shot and two unearned runs scored on the play.

Friday's loss ends the distinguished NYIT careers of four seniors: Laura McLaughlin, Tiffany McCracken, Madison Smith and Josephine Santagata.

The Bears, who had lost their NCAA Tournament opener to host Molloy on Thursday, finished the season with a 25-20 record.

McLaughlin, a first-team All-East Coast Conference pitcher, finished her two-year NYIT career with a 1.66 ERA.

After speaking with his entire team postgame, coach Steve Christianson separately gathered the seniors to express his gratitude.

"It was a thank you for everything they've given us — their hard work and dedication," Christianson said. "It didn't finish the way we wanted to, but we were one of 64 teams to make the tournament. It's a big deal. It's not an easy thing.

"We struggled at the beginning of the season. We had some quality wins and some quality losses in there as well. We had a meeting as a team and had some issues and the seniors really took charge at that point and let bygones be bygones. The team started to jell at that point."