Husson University’s debut as an NCAA Division III softball regional tournament host was hugely successful.
The Eagles entertained Massachusetts teams Tufts, Brandeis, Babson and Endicott, along with Eastern Connecticut State, in the three-day, double-elimination event.
Tufts went 4-0 and won the tournament, beating Husson 1-0 in the first game of the championship round.
The only significant issues Husson athletics director and tournament director Frank Pergolizzi and his staff had to deal with was a brief torrential rainstorm during the seventh inning of Sunday’s Tufts-Eastern Connecticut game that resulted in a 90-minute delay in the action.
A crew of 9-12 people, including Husson softball pitching coach Rick Roberts and Husson head football coach Nat Clark, spread approximately 15 bags of Turface drying compound on the all-dirt infield at the O’Keefe Field to make it playable.
“I have been to a lot of tournaments, including national tournaments, and this was, by far, the best-run tournament I have been to,” 20-year ECSU coach Diana Pepin said.
“Everything was organized, the hospitality was great. The people were amazing,” she added, noting the crew’s quick work in restoring the playing surface after the rain.
Tufts right fielder Reegan Coleman, who scored the winning run against Husson, said the tournament was great and commended the grounds crew for the job it did.
Tufts freshman pitcher Sophia DiCocco, who pitched a two-hit gem to beat Husson in the championship-round game, said the teams were supplied with snacks and drinks in the dugout during games.
“It was an amazing experience,” DiCocco said.
Pergolizzi said Husson also provided the teams with drinks and snacks in the locker rooms.
“We felt it would be a good gesture and it wasn’t expensive,” Pergolizzi said.
Cassie Woods and Julia SanGiovanni of Eastern Connecticut and Endicott’s Adrianna Favreau also noted the hospitality of the people involved and how well-run the tournament.
“It has been a good overall experience. We’ve loved our time up here,” Favreau said.
Eastern Connecticut’s Laura Zenk of Hermon said she was excited for her teammates to play at Husson, where she played a lot of games growing up. She said the experience lived up to expectations, although she would love to have won it.
Pergolizzi said everything ran smoothly until the downpour, but he was encouraged with how things worked out. He said Husson will be more proactive when it comes to bidding on hosting a regional in the future.
There was a shortage of bids this season, so an NCAA Division III softball committee representative asked Pergolizzi if Husson would submit a bid, which it did.
“We had to put two months of work into two weeks. But now we have a plan in place for the future when we host one again,” Pergolizzi said.
He was able to book the five teams into four hotels and he said it was challenging because he didn’t have much time to find the accommodations.
The regional tournaments had been four-team affairs in the past and Pergolizzi said that would be easier than running a six-team event.
He said Husson learned a lot from hosting, but any adjustments for the future would be minor.
Pergolizzi said Husson couldn’t have put its tarp on the softball field during Sunday’s downpour because the wind would have made it difficult to do so. And the rain didn’t last long.
Overall, he was pleased with how the tournament went, including the high level of competition among the six teams.