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Local Collegians Making their Marks in Spring Post-Season Sports,
09:30PM / Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Taconic graduate Dom Nda is headed to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships next weekend in Wisconsin.
The UMass Boston senior qualified as an individual in the 100-meter dash and will run a leg on the Beacon’s 4-by-100 relay quartet. Earlier this month, the 4-by-100 relay squad broke the school’s record in the event by clocking a time of 41.15 seconds at the MIT Last Chance Qualifying Meet.
Nda is just one of several area alumni who are competing or have competed in national championships this spring.
At the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Championships over the weekend in Minnesota, Hoosac Valley graduate Kali Puppolo helped the Herkimer College Generals advance to the championship round.
On Saturday afternoon, she threw two innings of one-hit relief to help win a 2-1 elimination game against Rock Valley of Illinois. Rock Valley then beat Herkimer, 6-2, in a winner-take-all final; Puppolo threw 6-⅔ innings in the national final. In her first year at the New York school, she helped Herkimer go 44-5 and earn the number one seed in the NJCAA tourney.
In the NCAA Division I tournament, Alicia Bazonski (Mount Everett) and the University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans dropped their first two, against South Carolina and Hofstra, after winning the Southern Conference Championship. Bazonski pitched a complete game in UNCG’s 5-2 win in the conference title game. On the season, the senior right-hander went 20-7 with a 1.99 earned run average. She struck out 115 while walking 68 and earned all-Southern Conference first team recognition -- she was a second-team all-league selection as a sophomore and a junior.
Taconic graduate Izaiya Mestre and the University of New Haven baseball team were eliminated by St. Thomas Aquinas in a 4-0 game on Sunday night at the NCAA Division II East Regional. Earlier in the day, the freshman threw seven innings to earn a 5-4 win over Franklin Pierce. He allowed just two earned runs on his way to improving his record to 8-2 (2.97 ERA) this spring. 
Taconic grads Alex Carusotto and Steve Witkowski saw their collegiate baseball careers come to an end on Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Division III New England Regional, where UMass Boston lost to SUNY-Oswego, 10-4, in an elimination game. Carusotto appeared in 13 games this spring -- all in relief -- earning a record of 2-0 with an ERA of 3.68. Witkowski, who made three starts and 11 appearances on the mound for the Beacons as a freshman back in 2015, did not see action on the hill this spring. A third local product on the UMass Boston roster, Pittsfield High grad and Beacons junior Ryan Grande, threw 1-⅔ innings in two games out of the bullpen this spring.
Sarah Stripp (Mount Greylock) and the Trinity College women’s lacrosse team went 2-1 in the NCAA DIII tournament, bowing out on Sunday with a 9-8 loss to Salisbury in the regional final. Stripp, a freshman, appeared in three games on defense for the 13-7 Bantams.
Lucy Barrett (Mount Greylock) and the Westfield State women’s lacrosse team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament, where the lost to third-seeded and defending national champ Gettysburg College. The Owls (18-3) won their second straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title earlier this month. Barrett appeared in 18 games, starting twice, and scored 11 goals to go with nine assists as a junior.
The Castleton State College baseball team went 0-2 in the NCAA Division III tourney after winning its fifth straight North Atlantic Conference title. Lenox graduate Dillon Benham, a junior at Castleton, finished with the team’s second-highest batting average, .348, in 42 games for the 30-12 Spartans. Matt Braman (Hoosac Valley) batted .225 and drove in 17 runs as a sophomore. Pittsfield’s Joe Gratton went 8-3 on the mound in 13 appearances (13 starts); the junior hurler compiled an ERA of 3.04. Gratton threw a complete-game with eight strikeouts in Castleton’s 9-2 win over Maine-Farmington in the NAC tournament.
The New England College men’s lacrosse team went to the second round of its NCAA tournament, where the Pilgrims lost to the tournament’s top seed, Rochester Institute of Technology. Mount Greylock graduate Patrick Storie had one of the three NEC goals in that season-ending loss. This spring, the freshman was named to the all-North Atlantic Conference first team after finishing third on the team with 44 goals and 22 assists. Former Mountie Reilly Parker scored 22 goals and assisted on 10 more for the Pilgrims.
Division I tournament play won’t start for a while, but Drew Demartino (Taconic) and the Hartford Hawks baseball team hope to be part of the mix. Demartino, who was a junior on last year’s Taconic state championship team but graduated a semester early in order to enroll at Hartford, went 3-for-4 at the plate and scored twice in the Hawks’ regular season-ending 12-7 win over Maine on Saturday. Hartford went 23-29 in the regular season overall and 16-8 in the America East. Demartino has appeared in 25 games, starting 19, and has a .192 batting average and a .906 fielding percentage. In league games, he is hitting .261. Hartford is seeded first in the America East tournament, which gets underway on Thursday.
This is also the time of year when spring sports all-league teams are named, and Hoosac Valley graduate Matt Koperniak was named to the first-team of the all-New England Small College Athletic Conference after helping lead Trinity College to an 18-15 record as a sophomore. Koperniak finished second in the NESCAC with a .388 batting average and had a slugging percentage of .620. He hit five home runs this spring.
At Springfield College, Pittsfield High graduate Chad Shade was named to the first team of the all-New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference baseball team. Shade went .331 in the leadoff spot and broke a school record for runs scored with 49 -- 41 more than the previous mark. Shade’s outfield mate Jack Cooney, another member of that Taconic state title team (along with Mestre and Demartino), batted .357 and drove in 27 runs in 31 games this spring.
Bobby Kinne (Monument Mountain) was selected to the all-Liberty League first team for the Vassar baseball team. It was the fourth time he earned all-league honors at the school. Kinne set a school record with six home runs this spring and finished in the top 20 in the conference in batting average (.333). He committed just three errors at second base all season, earning him a spot on the list of candidates for the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Gold Glove award.
Pittsfield graduate Allie Hunt, a sophomore third baseman on the RPI softball team, was named honorable mention all-Liberty League after hitting .273 in 33 games, registering five doubles, two triples and a home run for a .409 slugging percentage.
A couple of area alumni competed at this month’s Big East Track and Field Championships in Ohio. Drury graduate Connor Meehan ran the 800 meters in 1:57.44 and ran a leg on Xavier’s 4-by-800 relay quartet, which finished sixth, earning three points for the Musketeers, who finished seventh. The Georgetown women placed fifth, and Lenox’s Shannon Meisberger helped her team by placing second in the 400 hurdles (59.88). The freshman also ran a leg on the Hoyas’ fourth-place 4-by-400 relay quartet.
In DIII track, Carleton College senior Emily Kaegi (Mount Greylock) just missed in her bed to qualify for NCAAs at a last-chance qualifier at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse this month. Kaegi ran a time of 17:22.58 in the 5,000 meters to place second at the event, but she finished the year with the 33rd best time in the event; which takes just 22 athletes at nationals.
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