Meagan McClinchey has a unique way of looking at herself and her Suffolk CCC softball teammates.
“Most of us were supposed to be at a different school [other than Suffolk CCC], but things fell through or changed for whatever reason,” said McClinchey, a sophomore utility player from Patchogue-Medford. “But being here has been a blessing in disguise.”
That’s because for the third straight season, the Sharks (18-12) advanced to the NJCAA Division III World Series, which will be held in Rochester, Minnesota, next Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s really the student-athletes. They make it happen,” Suffolk CCC coach Joe Kosina said. “They help recruit the upcoming freshmen, and they pass the torch which was started three years ago.”
The possibility of reaching a third straight NJCAA World Series seemed unlikely in mid-April when the Sharks — the 2017 national runner-up — were scuffling with a 9-12 record.
“We knew what we were capable of doing,” McClinchey, the Sharks’ top hitter at .435, said. “We just had to figure out how to get there.”
It started on April 17 when Suffolk CCC swept a doubleheader at Dutchess CC by a combined score of 41-8. That started a streak of nine straight wins heading into next week’s national tournament.
“We all started to play together,” said freshman Macy Kane, who is 5-5 in the circle and is batting .396 with a team-high 42 hits and 33 RBIs. “I can count on my teammates and they can count on me.”
The Sharks feature freshman and Rocky Point product Karisa Lawrence, who was recently named the Region XV Player of the Year with a 9-1 record and 1.47 ERA. Sabrina Burrus and Kane were named All-Region infielders, Cori Augustine and Alyssa Kelly were All-Region outfielders, and McClinchey earned All-Region honors at utility. (Not surprisingly, Kosina was named Region XV Coach of the Year.)
The Sharks’ roster has only 13 players, including four sophomores (McClinchey, Augustine, Maison Zumpol and Lizzie Motis), and nine freshmen from eight area high schools. Still, Kosina and the Suffolk CCC coaching staff believe this is one of the tightest groups they’ve ever been around.
“Every time we are out of school, or not working,” McClinchey said, “we’re always together.”
The bond that the Sharks share should serve them well as they head to Minnesota next week.
“We have a chance to go win the [NJCAA softball] World Series. It’s crazy,” Kane, a Floyd product, said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”