A streak of 23 wins, the best in program history, was snapped when the St. Joseph’s softball team lost two games Monday night against Emerson.

Of all times, on senior night.

But, say the Monks, that just might help motivate them through the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs, which open today with first-round games that reduce the field to six teams competing in a double-elimination format.

“We feel like it was bound to happen and it is not necessarily a bad thing,” said center fielder Anna Willis, a former Gorham High standout. “We weren’t on our game (Monday) and we didn’t play our best. If we had won anyway, that wouldn’t have made us more competitive.”

The Monks’ tear began on March 13 against NYU-Polytechnic, a 4-3 win at Fort Myers, Fla.

From there, they won doubleheaders against Albertus Magnus, Mount Ida, Emmanuel, Suffolk, Norwich, Johnson & Wales, Southern Maine, Pine Manor, St. Joseph’s (Conn.), Simmons and Lasell.

“At times it’s been almost unbelievable,” said Coach Jamie Smyth, in his 13th season. “To win that many games in a row, it’s hard to do, doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”

The previous school record for consecutive wins was 18.

The 23-game streak tied the school record for all sports, set by the 1998-99 men’s basketball team that opened the season with 23 wins.

St. Joseph’s (27-7, 20-2 GNAC) has a roster of 23, the largest it’s had in years.

“The big thing about this team is its depth,” said Smyth. “We don’t have to rely on two or three kids all the time to help us win. We have people who can step in whenever and contribute. That’s been pretty healthy for the team.”

Willis agreed, adding that practice gets very competitive.

“We can scrimmage and people are definitely fighting for spots,” she said. “It really sets a good example for the future of the program. Newer players can see how we do things.”

Liddy van der Linden, a shortstop from Worcester, Mass., became the Monks’ single-season record holder for home runs, hitting her ninth Monday against Emerson. Sophomore Emily Leverone had eight last season.

“Raw talent has a lot to do with (the Monks’ success),” said Willis. “But this year there is also a special bond that we don’t really have to force.”

St. Joseph’s has never been to the NCAA tournament. The Monks’ last postseason appearance was the NAIA nationals in 1999.

To get to the NCAAs, the Monks likely need to win the GNAC title. At-large berths are often given to deeper conferences.

“I think if you ask any of these kids, they’d give up winning 23 consecutive games if they could win a conference championship,” said Smyth. “It doesn’t really matter what we do during the year if we don’t play well in the playoffs.”

ST. JOSEPH’S

The baseball team earned three GNAC awards last week.

Todd Keneborus of Hollis was named player of the week, pitcher Sam Murray was pitcher of the week and third baseman Mike Pratt was rookie of the week.

Keneborus, who leads the conference in batting average, hit .471 with a .647 slugging percentage in a 4-1 week.

Murray threw a three-hit shutout with four strikeouts. He is 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 362/3 innings.

Pratt hit .455 with an .818 slugging percentage, going 2 for 3 with a three-run homer in a win over Thomas on April 13. He went 2 for 4 with a double in a win over USM on April 15.

• The women’s lacrosse team (10-3-1) will host an opening-round playoff game against Norwich at 4 p.m. today. On Saturday, senior midfielder Lauren Hagerman of Scarborough became the first player in program history to amass 200 career points. In 37 career games, Hagerman has 126 goals and 76 assists.

SOUTHERN MAINE

Sophomore Bethany Dumas of Augusta was named Little East Conference field athlete of the week for the second time.

Dumas won the pole vault and javelin at the Aloha Relays, hosted by Bowdoin in poor weather conditions.

• Freshman Anthony Stanton of Acton was named LEC rookie field athlete of the week after setting a school record in the high jump at the State of Maine championships, hosted by Colby.

He cleared 6 feet, 7½ inches, a provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Division III championships.

• Lacrosse goalie Samantha Kiesel, a freshman, was named LEC goalie of the week after leading the Huskies to a pair of wins against teams with a combined record of 18-3-1.

Kiesel made 11 saves in a 14-7 win over St. Joseph’s, and two days later made 17 saves in a 10-9 win against Curry.

BOWDOIN

Pitcher Kara Nilan set the school record for consecutive scoreless innings in a win against Colby on Saturday.

Nilan went 41/3 scoreless innings to reach a total of 272/3, breaking the mark held by Gina Laugelli, who went 242/3 innings in 2001.

• The athletic department will hold the Bowdoin College Coaches Clinic on May 16. The clinic is free to high school and youth coaches. Contact Adrienne Shibles at 725-3640 or e-mail [email protected]

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

Pitcher Amber Zablowsky was named The Commonwealth Coast Conference pitcher of the week after going 3-1 with a 1.01 ERA.

The Nor’easters (21-11) have a pair of doubleheaders left before the conference playoffs begin Monday.

UMAINE

The baseball team will be home for the next two weekends, against Hartford and Stony Brook. Maine also will host Northeastern at Goodall Park in Sanford on May 11.

The Black Bears are led by sophomore center fielder Taylor Lewis, who’s hitting .398. Jeff Gibbs is 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA.

• The softball team (18-21, 7-2 America East) had a seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday night in a 6-3 loss at Albany.

Senior Alexis Souhlaris, last year’s conference player of the year, is batting .402 and is 5-3 with a 1.98 ERA.

The Black Bears have three series left before the America East tournament.

• Maine’s track and field team had a standout day at a Holy Cross quad meet on Sunday.

Jamie Ruginski of Buxton won the long jump (22-71/4) and triple jump (46-111/2), and Justin Gagne of Biddeford won the shot put at 49-21/4 and the discus at 149-5.

Former football running back Jhamal Fluellen took first in the 100 with a time of 11.02 seconds, and Skip Edwards of Portland had a win in the 400 in 49.09, placing him among the top 10 in that event in school history.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]