Blackbirds win first conference title since 2012

Trophy time: The Long Island Univerity softball team celebrates its Northeast Conference championship.
Long Island University

The Blackbirds would not be denied.

The top-seeded Long Island University softball team held off No. 3 Robert Morris 3–2 in the second game of the Northeast Conference tournament’s double-elimination final on May 14 in Brooklyn. It is the 14th crown in program history and first since 2012. The win comes after the Blackbirds fell in the last two finals.

“There was nothing that was going to stop us,” said conference player of the year Celinna Cosio, a senior. “We have been through that [losing] feeling two years in a row, and we didn’t want to have it again in our last year. We used that to keep us going.”

Long Island University (30–25) advances to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, where it next faces No. 10-seeded Louisiana Stare University on May 20. The Blackbirds plan to take on the challenge with confidence.

“I think we are very fearless, going in with nothing to lose,” Cosio said. “We know what we can do at our best. We know we are good enough to compete with the best.”

It earned that right by bouncing back against Robert Morris behind freshman pitcher Tallie Woodson, who allowed two runs and struck out five over just under seven innings of work. Both teams were scoreless through five innings until the Blackbirds used some small ball to finally get on the board in the sixth.

Consecutive bunt singles to lead off the frame quickly put two runners on. Arianna Lopez, who had two hits, lined a single to plate Karlie Brady. A wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Cosio put Long Island University up 3–0. The team was coming off a defeat and knew how important the game was, but three-run cushion helped ease the stress.

“That relaxed us a little bit more,” Cosio said. “Putting runs on the board first gave us something to work off of.”

Robert Morris attempted to mount a late rally in the top of the seventh with two out. Back-to-back doubles from Olivia LoRusso and Abrielle McCartney pulled the Colonials within two runs.

Erynn Sobieski, the tournament’s most valuable player and conference pitcher of the year, came on in relief after throwing earlier in the day. She allowed a run-scoring single to Stacey Capp, but got the next hitter to ground out for the save to clinch the title.

In game 1, Robert Morris broke a 1–1 tie in the top of the seventh. Then Ashley Gerhart swatted in two runners, and McCartney singled for another run. The Blackbirds loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs, but the Colonials worked out of trouble to force the second and final game.

Long Island University’s eventual triumph keeps alive one of the team’s best seasons in recent years. Cosio, Sobieski, Whitney West, and Kylie Mulholland were All-Conference first-team selections. Coach Roy Kortmann picked up his 600th career win along the way, and he and staff were voted the best in the Northeast Conference this year. It is all been part of a year remember, but the final chapter has yet to be written.

“This year was one of my favorite year’s for sure, being able to accomplish so much as a senior,” Cosio said. “Seeing my coach win, behind able to host [the conference tournament], and win with this team — it feels awesome.”

Ace effort: Blackbirds sophomore Erynn Sobieski was named the Most Valuable Player of the Northeast Confernece tournament.
Long Island University

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