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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, May 10, 2013

Downs leads Southern Connecticut softball into NCAA tournament again

NEW HAVEN — Led by a slew of seniors, it is no surprise the Southern Connecticut State softball team is once again in the NCAA Division II softball tournament.
And, once again, Seymour’s Alyssa Downs is a big reason why.
“I’m real proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Downs said. “I’m a bit surprised at how much success we’ve had, but everything has come together.”
SCSU slugger Alyssa Downs

Downs was a big part of Southern’s run to the College World Series last season and hopes to carry her team back to the championship series again this year.
SCSU begins tourney play today at 2:30 p.m. in the East Regional against Caldwell College (43-10) at Molloy College in Rockville Center, N.Y.
The University of New Haven softball team also starts tourney play today. The No. 4 seed Chargers (36-13) will meet No. 5 Adelphi (38-17) at 3:30 p.m at LIU-Post.
“This year has been different,” Downs said.
“Last year we knew we had (standout pitcher Jayme Larson) on the mound. This year we don’t have that. The pitching has been great, but this year we knew we all had to contribute and we’ve done it like that.”
Downs leads the seventh-seeded Owls (31-20) with a .314 average, 10 homers and 38 RBIs. Named an All-American as a junior, Downs was named to the Northeast-10 Conference First Team along with teammate Brittany Bucko. Bucko, also an All-American as a junior, has six homers and 23 RBIs this season.
“It’s been great playing with Brittany,” Downs said.
“She’s a great person and a great player. You don’t know what to expect from her. She does something every game.”
Downs is one of six seniors on the team and will graduate on May 17. She said softball has been such a big part of her life it will be sad when her final tournament comes to an end.
“Playing softball has helped motivate me,” Downs said.
“It’s hard playing softball and going to college. The first year was very hard, but then you learn how to manage your time.”
Downs has 11 home runs in NCAA play and heads the senior class that won its 150th game in last week’s NE-10 tourney.
Over the last four years, the group, which also includes Stacy Pouliot, Kate Hoffman and Kristin Whitley, is 151-67 with four NCAA tournament appearances and two conference titles.
Southern is 0-2 against Caldwell this season.
“The first game we played them was close, but we kind of got blown out in the second,” Downs said.
“But we weren’t hitting then and we have a lot of confidence now. We always play well in the tournament.”

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