York College softball to battle defending champions in NCAA D-III Tourmament

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

The York College softball team is set to officially begin its NCAA Division III Tournament journey this weekend.

A week after winning five straight elimination games to capture the MAC Commonwealth championship, the Spartans were placed in a four-team pod with defending national champion and No. 7-ranked Christopher Newport when the bracket was officially revealed Monday. The double-elimination regional begins Thursday in Newport News, Virginia.

York College (23-19) will be the No. 4 seed in the regional, which means a first-round matchup with the host Captains (26-10). The Spartans’ second game will be against either No. 2-seed Roanoke (27-12) or No. 3-seed Misericordia (26-11).

After an 18-18 regular season, York split its first two games of the MACC tournament before winning five in a row, including a two-game sweep of top-seeded Lebanon Valley to claim the title. The Spartans clinched their second NCAA appearance in three years with the triumph; before 2021, their only prior selection came in 2001.

Christopher Newport is in its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament, this time as an at-large selection after falling 1-0 to Salisbury in the Coast-to-Coast Conference title game. Misericordia won the MAC Freedom championship to make its first tournament since 2012, while Roanoke is the Old Dominion Athletic Conference regular-season champion and tournament runner-up.

York played none of the other three teams this season but faced CNU 17 times between 2004 and 2019, when the schools were both in the Capital Athletic Conference. The Spartans last played Roanoke in 2019 and Misericordia in 2013.

Regional winners will advance to the Super Regionals, where best-of-three series will trim the field to eight for the World Series in Marshall, Texas, from June 1-7.


York College women’s golf teed off at the NCAA Championships last week expecting to play at least three rounds at Mission Inn Resort & Club just outside Orlando, Florida. The Spartans knew they’d have to bring their best to make the 15-team cut at the 29-team event and play the final round. But tournament organizers canceled the third round with players on the course due to an unplayable hole.

The pin position on the sixth hole of the resort’s El Campeon course wreaked havoc on the entire field; a slew of videos surfaced in which putts rolled back to the golfers’ feet whether coming up short or even going past the hole, which was placed by NCAA officials on a 5% slope, according to multiple coaches. (Setups for big events rarely include pins on slopes of more than 4%.)

Almost 60% of the 151 players in the field had finished play in Thursday’s third round — severe weather suspended play late in the afternoon — but the NCAA Division III women’s golf committee canceled the entire round that evening. That ended the Spartans’ season as a team, although freshman Tori Blanc competed in the final round because she was tied for 48th individually after 36 holes. Blanc shot an 84 in the final round to finish tied for 56th.

Senior Natalie Robson saw her final round for the Spartans wiped out, and York will also graduate senior Taylor Devine. The group started four freshmen alongside Robson this postseason, headlined by MAC Rookie of the Year Blanc and fellow all-conference first teamer Grace Strickland.


Members of each Spartan spring squad have been selected as All-MAC Commonwealth selections after standout campaigns. All-conference teams were announced for baseball on Monday and for other sports last week.

A whopping 11 members of the men’s lacrosse team — which finished its season Sunday with a loss at No. 1-ranked Tufts — earned All-Commonwealth honors, including five individual award winners. Will Harnick, who set a program record with 76 goals, was named the league’s Co-Attackman of the Year. Brent Blackmon was Defenseman of the Year, Vinny Facciponti was Specialist of the Year, Jack Keller was Goalie of the Year and Brandon Childs was Coach of the Year. 

York College's Will Harnick (28) against Gettysburg during their men's lacrosse game in York on Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2023.

Harnick, Blackmon, Facciponti and Keller were joined on the MACC’s first team by attackman Ben Mayer, midfielders Ethan Greene and Jackson Shields and defenseman Nick Biava. Ames Clark and Jack Grayson made the second team at attack and midfield, respectively, while midfielder Zach Mentzer (Red Lion) was an honorable mention.

Women’s lacrosse, which is on to a Round of 16 matchup against Salisbury, had three individual award winners and eight All-Commonwealth selections. Head coach Jen Muston repeated as the MACC’s Coach of the Year, while freshman midfielder Sydney Mentzer (York Catholic) was the league’s Rookie of the Year and senior Bella Garabo was Goalie of the Year.

York College's Sydney Mentzer (34) against Messiah during the Commonwealth Women's Lacrosse Final in York on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

Garabo, Mentzer, defender Emmy Bryden and attacks Kiersten Blanchard and Logan Ward all made the conference’s first team. Attack Zoe Kluegel and defenders Sarah Christensen and Christina Vendelis made the second team.

The softball team is in the dance with just one all-conference first teamer in shortstop Alysaa Harhigh, who captured her third such honor last week. Pitchers Amanda Criss and Natalie Rietema, though, both made the league’s second team. Honorable mentions included catcher Daphney Adams, second baseman Morgan Sauers and center fielder Taylor Coon.

Monday’s baseball honorees included first-team outfielder Robby Elzinga (Northeastern) and relief pitcher Ethan Kennedy. Outfielder Brendan Martin and second baseman Gabe Trevena were honorable mentions. Elzinga, a senior, hit .396 in his final season to earn first-team honors for the second year in a row.

York College also held its year-end award ceremony May 7 and named Harnick the Daniel J. Klinedinst Award winner as the top Spartan male athlete of the year. Julia Pena of the track and field team won the Georgia Heathcote Stallman as the best female athlete. And the Jack Jaquet Fighting Heart Award was given to Brian Jakubek, a catcher for the baseball team who rejoined the Spartans this spring after battling a cancer diagnosis last summer.