Softball aims for history in this weekend's Region XV Tournament
The journey to a historic finish for the Community College of Rhode Island’s softball continues Saturday in the biggest weekend of the season.
The Knights are in Selden, NY, for the NJCAA Division III Region XV Tournament, a best-of-three against host school Suffolk Community College – the first step in a potential trip to the NJCAA D-III Softball World Series for the first time in program history.
Since its inception in 1980, softball has enjoyed tremendous regional success with 12 Region XXI titles, but has yet to qualify for the World Series.
The Knights and Sharks play twice on Saturday beginning at noon with a winner-take-all third game scheduled for Sunday at noon, if necessary. The Region XV winner hosts the Northeast District Championships the following weekend from May 12–13 with the winner of that tournament earning one of eight spots in the national tournament May 24–27 in Dewitt, NY.
Eight districts will crown champions between May 11–19: North A, North B, North Plains A, North Plains B, Great Lakes, North Atlantic A, North Atlantic B, and the Northeast, where the Knights compete with schools from Regions XV and XX.
CCRI enters this weekend with a 12-game win streak is 15-7 overall. The Knights haven’t lost a game since April 2 and haven’t played since April 22 due to a rainout last weekend, wiping out a scheduled doubleheader against Bay Path University.
Statistically, the Knights are the nation’s most prolific offensive team, leading the nation in batting average (.468) and on-base percentage (.552) and finishing fourth in slugging percentage (.636) and 18th in runs scores (235).
Freshman catcher Ashley Klingberg (Coventry, RI) and sophomore shortstop Lucie Willett (Charlestown, RI) were phenomenal offensively in 2023; Klingberg finished sixth in the nation in batting average (.600), seventh in on-base percentage (.626), and sixth in triples (7) while Willett led the Knights with four home runs in addition to batting .536 and driving in 30 runs in 20 games.
Suffolk County will be a difficult adversary this weekend. The Sharks finished 14-12 overall and 4-0 in league play and, like CCRI, dominated offensively, finishing 16th in the nation in runs (244), sixth in walks (128), and 10th in batting average (.464). Sophomore infielder Jaden Thompson is the player to watch; she led the team in all offensive categories, batting .476 and hitting five home runs with 37 RBI.
To win, the Knights will have to solve sophomore pitcher Gianna Postiglione, who finished 8-4 with a 3.64 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 60 innings. Sophomore Katie Buerkel made her 2023 pitching debut on April 18 and pitched five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in a win over Monroe College-Bronx.