RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Felician University softball team has qualified for the 2018 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship tournament as the No. 6 seed.
Guided by second-year head coach Alexis Durando, Felician (19-22, 16-10) is making its 11th playoff appearance, and its fourth consecutively. The Golden Falcons are seeking their first conference championship. Felician tied for fourth place in the CACC and dropped to the No. 6 seed via tiebreaker.
On Thursday, the Golden Falcons will first take on No. 3 seed and tournament host Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J.
The CACC Softball Championship is an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. It will be played on two fields over three days on the campus of predetermined host Georgian Court. Felician will play again on Thursday at 4 p.m. with a victory over GCU, and at 2 p.m. should it lose to the Lions. With at least one win on Thursday, the Golden Falcons would continue in the event on Friday.
The CACC Digital Network will provide free live coverage of all games in the event. A complete tournament schedule, along with Live Stats and webstreaming links, can be viewed at www.caccathletics.org/sports/sball/2017-18/releases/52CACCDN.
"The Georgian Court program is the best it's been since I got to Felician," said senior pitcher Ashley Owens (Lockport, N.Y./Starpoint). They have a solid lineup and don't make many errors. We will need to keep our fielding clean, make smart pitches, and have our offense get hot at the right time."
The record-setting Owens has once again been the workhorse of the Golden Falcon pitching staff, tossing 177 of the team's 262 1/3 innings. Felician's career leader in innings, wins and strikeouts, the right-hander was a second-team all-conference selection for the second time. She owns a 15-9 record, two saves, and a 2.93 earned-run average.
The offense is led by Felician's other second-team all-CACC honoree, senior left fielder Jeannette Roldan (Hesperia, Calif./Oak Hills). The Golden Falcons' leadoff hitter, Roldan enters the playoffs hitting .399 with 20 extra base hits, 31 runs scored and 20 runs batted in. Freshman shortstop C.J. Apacible (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) is hitting .377 with 12 doubles, two home runs, and 31 RBI, and sophomore first-baseman Nicole Spiegelberg (Blauvelt, N.Y./Tappan Zee) is batting .316 with a school-record 12 homers and 36 RBI.
Georgian Court (28-21, 18-8) leads the CACC with 52 home runs and a .489 slugging percentage. The Lions' offense features the conference Player of the Year, junior catcher Samantha Reilly (Toms River, N.J./Toms River North) (.512, 14 doubles, 23 home runs, 62 RBI) and Rookie of the Year, freshman outfielder Caitlin Hughes (North Plainfield, N.J./South Plainfield) (.352, 26 extra base hits, 46 runs scored). Junior left-hander Jessica O'Neill (Levittown, Pa./Bucks County Tech) (16-9, 3.01, three saves) paces the pitching staff.
The Golden Falcons swept the regular-season meetings between the teams, 4-3 and 9-5, on Apr. 14 in Lakewood. Thursday marks the fourth meeting between Felician and Georgian Court in the CACC tournament and first since 2011.
"We have a strong line-up from top to bottom, and we feel we have a really good chance to go deep into the tournament," Roldan said. "We need to play solid defense and get hits with runners in scoring position."
Directions to Georgian Court are available at www.gculions.com/sports/2009/8/28/gcudirections.aspx. Ticket prices for each day of competition are $6 for adults and $3 for children, students (with ID) and senior citizens. Children age three years and under will be admitted free. Pets, smoking and other use of tobacco products, and the use of artificial noisemakers are PROHIBITED at the tournament.
The winner of the 2018 CACC Championship receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional Championship tournament.