MADISON, N.J. – Moravian College will serve as the host for a pair of multi-team double-elimination Landmark Championships this weekend as both the Landmark Baseball Championship and Landmark Softball Championship will get underway Friday May 7 in Bethlehem, Pa.
As the top seed, Moravian earned the right to host both events which are four-team double-elimination tournaments. Action will get underway first in baseball with host Moravian taking on the four seed Juniata College at 9 a.m. The schedule will continue with two more games on Friday, followed by three games Saturday and then more action on Sunday if necessary. The softball championship will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday with four seed Juniata facing top seed Moravian. Two more games will follow on Friday, and the tournament is scheduled to conclude with four games on Saturday.
In the baseball championship, Moravian earned the top seed on the strength of a season-ending sweep of The Catholic University of America over the final weekend which gave the Greyhounds a record of 14-4 in Landmark play. Catholic earned the number-two seed with a mark of 13-5 in conference and will face third seed Susquehanna University (12-6 Landmark) in the second game on Friday. Juniata won its regular season finale against The University of Scranton to finish at 10-8 in conference play and secure the fourth seed.
Moravian is enjoying one of the finest seasons in program history after finishing the year with a school-record 23 victories. Led by senior Chris Morrison who sports a 2.44 ERA the Greyhounds lead the Landmark in both team ERA and strikeouts. Offensively the team has six regulars hitting .300 or better and has sophomore Kevin O'Keefe who ranks fifth in the conference in total bases. Catholic is the two-time defending conference champion, having won the tournament as the number-four seed each of the previous two years. The Cardinals feature a deep pitching staff with seven different pitchers earnign at least two victories. Offensively Dimitri Deoudes has scored a team-high 30 runs with a .437 batting average. Susquehanna joins Catholic as one of two teams playing in the baseball tournament in all three seasons, but the team hopes to improve on its 0-4 record in the event. Senior catcher Chris Price anchors the team behind the plate where he leads the team in hits, doubles and total bases. The Crusaders are also deadly on the base paths, where the team stole a Landmark-high 101 bases during the season. Juniata won its final two games of the season to earn its spot in the postseason. The Eagles rank second in the conference in team batting average and are led by the senior duo of Andrew Kriss and Greg Hoffman who have combined for 106 hits and 63 runs scored.
In softball competition Moravian is trying to earn its third-straight title after finishing as the top seed for the third time. The Greyhounds dropped just one regular season conference game to earn the top seed. That loss came to Susquehanna which finished as the two seed with an 8-4 conference record. Scranton and Juniata both finished the season at 6-6 in Landmark play, but Scranton moved ahead via tiebreaker to get the third seed and will play Susquehanna in the second game on Friday after Juniata faces Moravian in the opener.
Moravian has been dominant in conference action with an 11-1 record while finishing 27-11 overall. The Greyhounds allowed an average of just 1.4 runs per game in conference play and sophomore hurler Jenna Carmon led the Landmark in ERA with a mark of 1.38. She also is a key factor offensively with a .310 batting average and 11 extra base hits. Susquehanna set a new program record for wins this season with its record of 29-9 and is trying to go one step further after reaching the championship game of the tournament last season. Offensively the Crusaders led the conference in runs scored, and are powered by Brennan Balfour who topped the conference in total bases. In the circle, Cara Swerdlow threw six shutouts on the season and recorded a 2.21 ERA. Scranton secured its place in the tournament with a win in its last game with junior Annie Zeleniak providing a clutch three-run home run. Zeleniak is the key force in the Scranton lineup as she leads the team in nearly every category and batted a remarkable .524 in the team's 12 conference games. Samantha Boccolini emerged as a key pitcher for the Royals down the stretch and has a 1.07 ERA in Landmark action. Juniata is back in the Landmark postseason for the second-straight year after finishing 19-16 and winning its final three conference games to reach the postseason. Senior Stacy Nagy was tabbed as the Juniata MVP as she posted a .500 batting average on the year and also served as Juniata's number-two pitcher, collecting seven wins. Juniata hit .336 as a team for the year, a mark that is tops in the conference.
For the first time this season the winners of the Landmark Championship will earn automatic bids to the NCAA Division III Baseball and Softball Tournaments respectively. The remaining teams will also be eligible for Pool C (At-Large) tournament bids. The NCAA softball pairings will be released on Monday May 10, and the baseball championship field will be released on Monday May 17. The Landmark sent a softball team to the tournament in 2009, and has never qualified a team for the NCAA baseball tournament.