The Suffolk CCC softball team is heading back to the Junior College World Series.
The Sharks swept Butler CC in a District H series doubleheader on Saturday afternoon by scores of 9-3 and 11-1 to earn the team’s second consecutive trip to the eight-team national championship tournament in Rochester, Minnesota on May 18.
Freshman outfielder Maison Zumpol was an absolute force for Suffolk (22-15), belting three home runs — her first of the season — on the day.
“My teammates have my back,” Zumpol said. “I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that without them.”
After launching a home run to leftfield in the seventh inning of the opener to extend the Sharks’ advantage to 9-2, Zumpol rode that momentum into the clincher. Already leading 3-0 following three RBIs from third baseman Jackie Chester, Zumpol drove another ball over the leftfield fence to give Suffolk a 5-0 lead.
Ironically enough, Zumpol unsuccessfully attempted a bunt on the previous pitch. “I could not have been happier about that ball going foul,” Zumpol said.
Freshman Cori Augustine, who went 4-for-4 in the second contest, drove in three runs and made it 7-0 Suffolk with a two-run single in the fifth. Zumpol then cleared the centerfield wall for her third home run of the afternoon. She finished the clinching victory with four RBIs and two runs. In the opener, she had a solo home run.
“It’s amazing,” leftfielder Paige Baker said. “I’m very proud of her. The team needed that and fed off that.”
Baker was the first Shark to display her power. She went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs and blasted a three-run home run to left field in the first inning of the series opener to begin the scoring.
“I knew we could get here and I knew that we could do this today” said Baker, who hit her sixth homer.
After a bases-loaded walk by Augustine in the third inning, the Sharks proceeded to build a 6-0 lead in the fifth on a two-run single by first baseman Laura Galligan. She went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run.
Augustine (13-7) pitched a complete game in the first game. She struck out four and allowed two earned runs on seven hits. With two outs and the score at 9-3 following two Butler (20-5) seventh-inning runs, Augustine worked out of a bases-loaded jam to close it out.
Courtney Lawrence (9-8) then took the mound for Suffolk, and did not disappoint.
Lawrence surrendered six hits and one run in a second consecutive complete game. Her teammates all embraced her after striking out the final batter to secure a trip to Minnesota.
“This is fun,” Suffolk coach Joe Kosina said. “This team’s worked hard all year.”
Last year the Sharks went winless at the Junior College World Series, but Zumpol believes this year could be much different.
“I feel we can go all the way.”