On the Road With Softball at the NCAA’s: Day One
May 10, 2012
Traveling to the NCAA Division III regional tournament can be a nerve-wracking time, but for many of the 2012 members of the Keuka College softball team, this will be their second or third time competing for a spot in the prestigious College World Series.
The Storm (22-11, 18-2 North Eastern Athletic Conference) captured the NEAC North regular season title and claimed the NEAC postseason title for the sixth straight season. Keuka, which earned the NEAC’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament, received the No. 8 seed in the eight-team, double-elimination Amherst (Mass.) regional tournament, which runs Thursday through Monday.
The Green and Gold will open up regional play against top-seeded SUNY Cortland (38-8), the runners-up in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) who earned an at-large bid into the field and is making its 18th NCAA appearance, including sixth in a row.
The Storm, the NEAC North regular season champions, and the Red Dragons will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday morning, with the winner advancing into the winners’ bracket and the loser needing to win out to avoid being sent home.
In the first installment of “On the Road With Keuka Softball at the NCAA’s,” the three captains of the Storm, senior Elly Disbrow (Penn Yan, NY/PennYan), junior Terin Brown (Wayland, NY/Wayland-Cohocton) and sophomore Brooke Lovell (Arkport, NY/Arkport) sat down with Sports Information Director John Boccacino to discuss the mood of the Storm heading into Thursday’s opening round of regionals against Cortland, ranked No. 1 in the NCAA’s regional rankings.
John Boccacino: “After leaving campus this afternoon, the team arrived at the hotel in Greenfield, Mass. around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday night. How was the bus ride down?”
Elly Disbrow: “We found our way to this 1970s-style Wegmans in Syracuse, which was pretty entertaining. There was a little local flavor there that made for some good stories. But we really didn’t do much, we stopped to eat dinner, we watched some movies, but usually we watch, “Bridesmaides,” but this time we didn’t, which is unusual for us because that’s always a movie we watch. On the ride down, it’s important just to relax and have some fun. Being a No. 8 seed, we really have nothing to lose.”
Boccacino: “Cortland has been to NCAA’s the last six years and has advanced into the eight-team World Series seven times overall, and three of the last four years. Keuka has been to regionals six years in a row, but never won the regional. Is the Storm the underdog?”
Terin Brown: “We don’t have anything to lose, so we’re going to stay relaxed and have fun. We will work as hard as we can and leave it all on the field, and people shouldn’t underestimate us. We have a lot of skill and we have a lot of power, we can come out and give you a run for your money, so don’t underestimate us like they usually do. Last year, no one was expecting us to go as far as we did, and we made it to the regional final.”
Boccacino: “Sophomore Danielle Gravel (Sidney, NY/Sidney) enjoyed a phenomenal season on the mound, setting a school record for wins in a season while going 17-4 and earning NEAC North Pitcher of the Year. What is it like to play defense behind Gravel, who doesn’t make many mistakes and has good pitch command?”
Brooke Lovell: “Dani throws strikes, she may not be a dominant pitcher but she gets the job done for us and we get the job done for her. We play good defense and our bats work in our favor even though we don’t hit a lots of home runs. Jill (Hart) has been hitting phenomenally, Elly has been hitting great everyone has really been hitting the ball well.”
Disbrow: “Danielle doesn’t necessarily strike out a lot of batters, but I think it’s the mark of a good pitcher that they can put the ball in a place where their defense will be able to field the ball, whatever comes off the bat. That’s what Danielle does, she might not strike out 13 batters per gm, but she puts the ball in a place where we can make plays. I love being a center fielder behind her, she speeds the game up and keeps things going.”
Boccacino: “Last year, Keuka earned a No. 6 seed, its highest regional seeding, and went 3-2 with a pair of wins over Ithaca College before falling to Messiah (Pa.) in the regional championship. Are there areas where Keuka has an edge on the Red Dragons?”
Disbrow: “Obviously Cortland is a great team, I just would say we have to put the ball in play and play like we know how to play. It’s not like a Masters class, there’s not some formula you can put together, you go out there and do what you’ve been doing since you were six years old and you have a lot of fun playing.”
Brown: “Even if we don’t do what we want to do this weekend, we have a great team and have such great chemistry and we all get along so well. It’s been a great season overall, no matter how it turns out. It’s been phenomenal playing with these people.”
Boccacino: “How are you feeling on the eve of the Storm’s sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance?”
Lovell: “I’m anxious, I’m ready to go. I probably could have played when we got off the bus today, but I’m ready.”
Check back Thursday for another installment of “On the Road With Keuka.”