Monday, May 11, 2009

Locals leads Vikings to first-ever Horizon League Championship

PENDLETON, Indiana - Angie Nicholson, an Elyria native who coaches Cleveland State’s softball team, led the Vikings to their first-ever Horizon League Championship, defeating the University of Illinois-Chicago, 4-2 on Sunday.

With the title, CSU earns the Horizon's League automatic bid into the NCAA Championships and will play Notre Dame (41-15) in an opening round game of the Michigan Regional on Friday.
The Vikings have won 22 of their last 26 games and currently hold a 35-16 record.

"One of our team goals this season was to win the Horizon League title and earn an NCAA bid,“ Nicholson said through a press release. “Now that we have achieved that, it is time to raise our sights a lot higher and go to Ann Arbor this week ready to play and advance … From the top of the lineup to the bottom, you can find a difference making effort from everybody. That's what it takes to be a champion."

Elyria’s Andrea Nagy preserved the championship win with a diving catch to end the game.

"That was the play of the game," Nicholson said. "If that ball gets down, it would probably go all the way to the wall and tie the game, but Andrea got a great jump on it and was able to sprawl out and make the catch."

This was the fifth time in the last seven years that the Vikings advanced to the title game, but CSU had failed to win a title. The only tournament title in CSU history came when the Vikings claimed the Midwestern Collegiate Conference title in 1997.

Nicholson (formerly McCall), who graduated from CSU in 2000, took over as head coach in the fall of 2006 and is the first head coach to lead CSU to back-to-back 30-win seasons. She was also named the Horizon League's co-Coach of the Year last season.

Nagy, a sophomore, has played in 44 games and has 19 starts. She is batting .250 with seven doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Elyria’s Megan Bashak, a freshman, has played in 33 games with 31 starts. She’s batting .340 with nine doubles, three home runs, 19 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

Keystone’s Jessica Burt started two games and went 2-for-4 (.500) with an RBI and a run, before a season-ending knee injury. Last year as a sophomore, she started all 49 games and hit .294 with 40 hits, six doubles, four triples, three home runs, 19 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

Another Elyria native that will be joining the Vikings next season is Tess Sito, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio last year. Sito is having another impressive season this year after going 27-2 with a 0.22 ERA last season. She was also a second team Louisville Slugger NFCA All-America choice, a two-time first team All-Ohio selection and a three-time All-Northeast Ohio Conference selection. And don’t forget the three Ohio State Championships she has led the Pioneers to.

"Tess is simply one of the best pitchers in the country," Nicholson said. "She throws hard with good location and will become even better once she learns the college game."

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