Mansfield - The fifth-seeded Coast Guard Academy softball team will begin play in the NCAA Division III tournament's Mansfield Regional beginning at 1:30 p.m. today at Eastern Connecticut State University with a matchup against No. 4 Ithaca.
Coast Guard (26-17) is making its fourth straight NCAA appearance after winning three games last Saturday to come out of the losers' bracket and capture the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference tournament, earning the league's automatic bid.
Coast Guard is led by senior pitcher Hayley Feindel (19-8), who with 122 wins has the most all-time in Division III, and fellow all-conference picks Holli Bastinck (league-leading .465 batting average) and Jesse Richardson (.451). Richardson, the Bears' freshman catcher, was named NEWMAC Rookie of the Year.
Ithaca (30-12) won the Empire 8 tournament Sunday, beating St. John Fisher 2-0. Sophomore second baseman Julianne Vincent was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Sophomore first baseman Sydney Folk was named Empire 8 Player of the Year, sophomore pitcher Jillian Olmstead was Co-Pitcher of the Year and freshman shortstop Francesca Busa was Co-Rookie of the Year.
The schedule for today at Eastern is as follows:
No. 1 Eastern Connecticut vs. No. 8 Lesley, 11 a.m.; No. 4 Ithaca vs. No. 5 Coast Guard, 1:30 p.m.; No. 3 Rochester vs. No. 6 St. John Fisher, 4 p.m.; and No. 2 Tufts vs. No. 7 Salem State, 6:30 p.m.
Eastern (40-1) has advanced to the national tournament, including the final eight teams in the nation, the last two seasons. Included on the Warriors' roster this season are Fitch graduates Arielle Cooper, Megan Bondy and Courtney Weber, Waterford's Mattie Brett and Erin Miller and Griswold's Jaymie Sommers.