Magical year for Molloy softball


Behind a dominant pitching tandem and a balanced offense, Molloy College enjoyed a historic season on the softball diamond in 2013 with a record 53 wins and an appearance in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.

The Lady Lions captured a third consecutive East Coast Conference title this spring and went on to win the Div. II East Region crown for the second time in four years.

“We’ve had some good teams the past couple of years,” coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke said. “I think what made us great this year, along with the pitching, was a balanced lineup. We hit from top to bottom and had good speed and gap power.”

Senior pitchers Megan Butterworth and Kelley Jansen didn’t need a ton of run support, but Molloy featured seven players with at least four homers and six players with at least 10 doubles. The Lady Lions batted .321 — more than 130 points higher than opponents did against Butterworth and Jansen.

“They were a big reason obviously for our success over the last four years,” Cassidy-Lyke said of Butterworth and Jansen, the 2013 and ’12 ECC Pitchers of the Year, respectively. “We didn’t have to score a lot because they were so good.”

Butterworth, a North Bellmore resident out of Holy Trinity High School who earned Second Team All-American honors, went 28-7 with a 1.29 ERA and 279 strikeouts. Jansen, a Long Beach High School product, went 23-7 with a 1.90 ERA and 322 strikeouts. “We had two No. 1s,” Cassidy-Lyke said.

Freshman catcher Milan Botte had a big year behind the plate and with the bat. In addition to calling pitches, she hit .312 with five homers and 41 RBIs. “Milan deserves a lot of credit,” Cassidy-Lyke said. “She got on the same page with Megan and Kelley right away, and they trusted her.”

The defense was strong down the stretch, Cassidy-Lyke said, and for the year committed only 60 errors in 67 games. “We spent a lot of time working on defense, and it was very good,” she noted.

The offense produced 347 runs, an average of 5.2 per game, and reached another level when the coach moved junior Nicolette Sinagra from the No. 3 hole to the leadoff spot. Sinagra’s .367 average and 45 runs led the team, and she had four homers and 37 RBIs. Jeana Frey, the lone senior position player on the roster, followed Sinagra and batted .362 with 23 sacrifice bunts. Sophomore Brenda Lee (team-high 43 RBIs) thrived as the new No. 3 hitter, and junior Dayna White hit .349 with six homers and 41 RBIs. Sophomore Victoria Gunnels, a Mepham High School product, was Ms. Clutch during the postseason run and led the team with seven homers. Freshman Tracey Balinskas, a pitching recruit, filled a void at third base and batted .342 with 43 runs and six homers.

“It was such a special season,” Cassidy-Lyke said.