First-Place Blackbirds Resume Late-Season Surge Behind Hoham
By John Torenli
It’s all coming together at just the right time for LIU-Brooklyn’s softball team.
The Blackbirds extended their season-high winning streak to nine games with Sunday’s doubleheader sweep of Wagner, grabbed first place in the Northeast Conference with only four games remaining in the regular season and continued to pick up individual awards along the way.
In other words, it was anything but a ho-hum weekend, thanks in most part to senior Sterling Hoham.
The 21-year-old shortstop was named the NEC Player of the Week on Monday, marking the second straight time a Blackbird has earned the honor following teammate Emily Kakuska’s award-winning effort last week.
Hoham batted .600 (9-for-15) with three multi-hit efforts, eight RBIs and three runs scored as LIU vanquished Central Connecticut State and the Seahawks in a pair of doubleheader sweeps.
Against CCSU, Hoham recorded seven putouts and seven assists from her infield spot without committing an error. Her biggest moment of the weekend came in Staten Island when she belted a game-changing three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning, lifting LIU to a 9-7 triumph.
At 12-4 in NEC play, the Blackbirds moved one game in front of Monmouth (13-5) for the league’s top spot and the right to host the May 11-13 NEC Tournament at LIU Field.
The Blackbirds will try to defend their slim lead Sunday with another key road doubleheader at Monmouth.
The Blackbirds are far from the only local juggernaut on the local softball circuit.
Spearheaded by juniors Shelby Bruns and Miranda Merilli, the Lady Jays of NYU-Polytechnic have already earned the distinction of hosting this week’s Skyline Conference Championships.
The third-year duo cleaned up on the league’s weekly awards Monday, with Bruns being named Player of the Week and Merilli getting the top pitching award.
Bruns, who is coach James Barrett’s catalyst out of the lead-off spot, hit a blistering .652 (15-for-23) with four doubles, three triples, two RBIs and 13 runs scored. The shortstop sparked the Jays to a perfect 6-0 week, extending their season-high winning streak to 11 as they finished the regular season with a dazzling 13-1 mark in Skyline play.
Merilli was superb on the mound, going 3-0 on the week with two shutouts, including her second no-hitter of the year against Purchase. The Altoona, Pa., native struck out 14 over 16 innings of work.
Seeded No. 1, the Jays were scheduled to host Old Westbury at 4 p.m. on Wednesday for the tournament opener.
Off the diamond and onto the hard court, the LIU-Brooklyn’s women’s tennis team saw its season come to a close over the weekend during the NEC Championships in West Windsor, N.J.
Despite fine performances in doubles by freshman Sanne Louwers and junior Taysha Blessington, the Blackbirds fell 4-1 to top-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in the best-of-seven semifinals.
The St. Francis College women's team fell to Wagner, 4-0, in a season-ending consolation match and the Terriers' men’s squad fell to No. 5 Sacred Heart on Saturday.
The Brooklyn College men’s tennis team ended the regular season on a three-match winning streak and will meet No. 4 College of Staten Island in this week’s opening round of the CUNYAC Championships across the Verrazano.
If the Bulldogs pull off the upset, they’ll advance to the semifinals on Sunday against No. 1 Baruch or No. 8 CCNY. The championship final is scheduled for Thursday, May 3. Both the semifinals and final will be held at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
Leading the way this season for BC has been captain Matthew Micharlsen, who has posted a 6-8 record playing at the No. 1 singles position.
The LIU-Brooklyn women's lacrosse team closed its regular season slate with a loss to Robert Morris, 19-11, on Sunday in Moon Township, Pa.
Sophomore Shakoya Smith led the Blackbirds with four goals, earning herself a spot on the budding program’s list for most goals scored in a season with 47 — good for third all-time at LIU.
The Blackbirds won just once in 16 matches this year.
Brooklyn College senior guards Tyshawn Russell and Amil John were named to the 2012 All-Met Basketball Writers Association Men's Basketball Division III Third Team last week.
The back court duo was instrumental in leading the Bulldogs to a 19-10 record, including a 7-4 mark in CUNYAC play, before a quarterfinal-round loss to York College in the conference tournament.
Russell, a native of Jamaica, N.Y., started all 29 games, averaging a team-high 22.1 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field, including a 33-for-110 performance from 3-point range. He added 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals per contest while ranking second in minutes played and scoring in the league.
The Holy Cross alum finished his career with 1,421 career points, good for sixth all-time in BC men's history.
John, a product of Brooklyn’s South Shore High School, also started all 29 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 17.3 points to go with 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.4 steals, all but the scoring ranking as team highs.
John finished his four-year career with 1,383 career points, good for seventh all-time in school history.
During their four-year reign in Brooklyn, Russell and John helped lead the Bulldogs to a cumulative 79-35 (.693) record, including a 38-12 (.760) mark in the CUNYAC, resulting in back-to-back CUNYAC championships and NCAA Tournament appearances from 2009-10, as well as an ECAC Tournament appearance this past year.