Play Ball, cont.

Because the World Series fell on the same weekend as Commencement, the Greyhound coaching staff had a surprise graduation for the six senior players (Hastings, Soroka, Janelle Brey, Jessica Esposito, Megan Smith, and Donna Weiner) and the teamís senior manager, Geoff Deen, before the game Saturday. The seniors, who hadnít worn their graduation garb to the field, were given mortarboards by assistant coach Scot Dapp, who led a hummed version of ďPomp and Circumstance.Ē The graduates processed to the front of the pavilion to sit in front of their teammates and most of their parents.

The unique commencement included a speech from Byrne, who recalled the first time he met all the seniors when he recruited them five years ago; a speech by assistant coach Ron Cardinal, who is also the academic counselor for the Athletics Department; a guest speaker, assistant coach Scott Hoke í86, deputy warden at Northampton County Prison; and presentation of diplomas.

Later that day, in Moravianís second game of the series, the Greyhounds had a chance to face their post-season nemesis of the last two seasons, Salisbury University from Maryland. The Sea Gulls, seeded fourth in the tournament, had knocked out the Greyhounds from the 2002 Regionals at Cabrini College and then defeated Moravian twice at Ramapo to keep the Hounds from the World Series 2003.

The game was slated to start at 4:00 p.m. but because of a 15-inning bout earlier in the day, it didnít start until 6:15 p.m. After 3Ĺ innings, it looked like Salisbury had Moravianís number again; the Sea Gulls led 4-0. But the Greyhounds cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning and tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth inning. For the second straight day, Moravian needed extra innings. This time the game went to 11 innings before Brey scored the winning run on a Salisbury error after a bunt by Soroka. The Hounds won 6-5.

On Sunday, Moravian was scheduled to play St. Thomas in the final winnerís-bracket game at 5:00 p.m. but a lightning storm delayed the start to 8:30 p.m. By NCAA rules, teams are pulled off the field for 30 minutes every time lightning strikes within 8 miles of a sports site. Then thereís a 15-minute interval to get ready to play again and 25 minutes to warm up before play resumes.

Again, Moravian fell behind early, but this time the Tommies were too strong for the Hounds to make a comeback. St. Thomas, which had an NCAA Division III record 41-game winning streak after capturing the national championship, won the game 5-0 and forced the Greyhounds into a loserís-bracket game. T

he final game of the loserís bracket was supposed to play at noon Monday, but the final game Sunday didnít end until after 1:00 a.m. Monday. The NCAAís softball committee decided to allow the winning team 12 hours before its next game, pushing the starting time of the game for Moravian to 1:30 p.m.

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The Moravian fans cheer during the second game versus Salisbury.

Photo: Gary Brittan