For the second year in a row, the Cumberland County College Baseball and Softball teams traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina together to compete against some of the best teams in the country. Once again, both programs made the necessary improvements while winning ballgames heading into the always tough, Region XIX schedule. Continue reading below to see how both teams fared against the country's best.
First year head coach, Magic Mears, jumped right in by scheduling tough opponents including last year's National Runner-up, Herkimer Generals. To make the mountain just a little steeper, the team enters the season with just three sophomores in Megan Culley, Siani Gomez, and Breanna Suppi. Coach Mears would not let that deter the Dukes as they would gain the lead in the early innings in their first three games before letting the advantage slip away in the final innings. However, the Dukes would pick up a big victory, their first of the season, against Kishwaukee College (IL). They would soon follow that with back to back victories against Bergen County, who is a member of Region XIX but was not scheduled as a region matchup. The trip would end with a matchup against one of the top programs in the country, the Herkimer County CC Generals, who competed for the National Championship just a year ago. The Dukes were certainly up to the challenge taking an early 5-2 lead with a 5-run 2nd inning. However, the Generals would slowly chip away and eventually overcome the Dukes to hand them a loss in their final day in Myrtle Beach.
There were a number of bright spots from the trip as nearly every single hitter finished the week hitting over .300. Alyse Jackson, Alicia Serrano, and Breanna Suppi led the way offensively for the Dukes as each player delivered home runs with Jackson tallying 3 home runs. Jackson would be the star of the show as she hit .583 (14 for 24) with 3 double, 3 triples, and 10 RBIs to go along with her 3 home runs. She would only strike out just one time in 25 overall plate appearances. Serrano would hit .385 with a home run and a double while Suppi would deposit 2 home runs with a triple while hitting .412 and not striking out the entire week.
In the circle, Megan Culley led the Dukes with a complete game, 10 strike out performance against Bergen CC. Alexis Donnelly would earn the victory against Bergen with a 5 inning, 5 strikeout performance in a 21-9 victory over Bergen CC in the second matchup between the two Region XIX foes. Breanna Suppi would earn the first victory of 2019 for the Dukes by twirling a gem against a tough Kishwaukee College team.
The Dukes will host their home opener on Saturday, March 23 as they host Bergen CC for their first Region XIX scheduled games.
Cumberland entered the week with what might be considered the toughest schedule they have encountered since they began traveling to Myrtle Beach back in 2014. On the agenda would be Elgin CC (IL), Rochester CTC (MN), and perennial NJCAA Division I contender, Potomac State College of WVU (WV). Filling out the schedule would be Division II opponent, Macomb College (IL), Mohawk Valley CC (IL), New River CC (VA), and Westmoreland County CC (PA). The Dukes would face a tough Elgin team and drop the first matchup 6-5, before going on a tear the remainder of the week winning their next 7 games. The Dukes would go on to defeat New River CC and sweep a doubleheader against Rochester CTC with a combined score of 58-4. This would lead into the highly anticipated matchup between Cumberland and Potomac State. In front of a bevy of scouts, the Dukes would handle the Catamounts by score of 8-1 as Cumberland would consistently attack PSC's highly touted starting pitcher as Ryan McIsaac and Tyler Knox would deliver home runs for the Dukes. From that point on, the Dukes would cruise to victories over Westmoreland County and Macomb College.
The Dukes would shine bright offensively, however, Donnie Stone and Ryan McIsaac would shine the brightest as both players would lead the Dukes in multiple categories. Stone would deliver a grand slam for Cumberland in the offensive onslaught against Rochester CTC, while McIsaac would deliver time and again for Cumberland including his 2-run shot against Potomac State. Nick Lonetto and Carrelle Gonzalez would deposit their first career collegiate home runs while fellow freshman, Matt Spaeth, would impress at the plate and defensively from the shortstop position.
On the mound, the Dukes completely suffocated their opponents throughout the week. Showing the depth of the Dukes staff, Cumberland rolled out 6 different starters in the 8 games played as Brian Bromley, Anthony Masselli, Mike Miles, Joe Nestel, Coe Nolan, Jarrett Quinn, and Jose Rodriguez would earn starts for the Dukes. Quinn would start two games on the week earning his record 25th win of his career against Macomb, but suffering the first loss of his career against Elgin. Mike Miles dazzled the crowd against Potomac State by holding the vaunted offense to just 1 run. Masselli and Rodriguez proved to be fireballers for the Dukes as they commanded the strikezone with a heavy dose of fastballs to earn themselves each a victory.
The future of the 2019 campaign looks bright for the Dukes as they next take the field Tuesday, March 19 as they will host Jefferson University at 3 PM.