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Softball - Thu, May. 9, 2013

MOUNT VERNON – NCAA Tournament-bound Cornell landed three players on the 2013 All-Midwest Conference Softball Team, headlined by South Division Co-Pitcher of the Year Jackie Sernek.

Sernek joined sophomore first baseman Kari Martin and junior catcher Abby Haubold on the 12-player first team in the South. Sernek, a junior right-hander from Chicago, Ill., shared Pitcher of the Year honors with Lake Forest freshman Jessi Werner.

All three Rams picked up their first all-conference awards. The last time Cornell had three players named First Team All-MWC was 1987.

Cornell's seventh-year head coach Shanda Ness was selected South Division Coach of the Year, steering the Rams (23-14 overall, 9-6 MWC) to their first MWC championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Cornell makes its NCAA debut Thursday (May 9) in a first-round regional game at 4 p.m. against Central in Pella. 

Sernek (13-3) surfaced as the team's ace during the stretch run, which saw the Rams win eight of their final nine games to punch their ticket to nationals. Sernek won her final six decisions, fueled by an impressive 4-0 nonconference shutout of 10th-ranked Coe on April 24.

Sernek fired all 10 innings in a postseason-clinching 3-1 victory at Illinois College on the final day of the regular season. She collected two complete-game wins in the MWC Tournament, including a two-hit gem in the 9-0 championship rout of Lawrence.

Sernek tied for the most pitching wins in the MWC, while ranking second by a sliver in earned run average (1.69) and opposing batting average (.215). She was third in the league with 123 strikeouts, which equaled a school record. Sernek set a program mark with seven shutouts and tossed 13 complete games. She compiled a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3:1.

Martin was the only true infielder chosen to the first team, which featured four pitchers, three catchers and four outfielders. The Mount Vernon native was among the MWC batting leaders in average (.431, fifth), slugging percentage (.672, third), on-base percentage (.472, sixth), hits (50, third), doubles (11, second) and home runs (5, eighth). Martin tied for the league lead with 78 total bases.

Martin's 50 hits are fifth-most in a season at Cornell, and just five off the record. She collected a team-best 17 multi-hit games, 10 of them recorded in the final two weeks. Martin scored 22 runs, drove in 22 and was solid defensively with a .986 fielding percentage. She's batted .523 (23-of-44) in the 12 games leading up to the NCAA Tournament.

Haubold enjoyed a break-out season, starting 20 games at catcher for the Rams. The Woodstock, Ill., native more than doubled her 2012 batting average, hitting at a .404 clip (23-of-57) this spring. Haubold totaled 11 RBIs, eight runs and four doubles.

Haubold had a slugging percentage of .474. Her on-base percentage was .455. Haubold did not commit an error in 151 chances behind the plate.

Ness got the Rams peaking at the right time, winning three of the final four games in league play to secure the program's first MWC Tournament berth since 1992. Cornell went on to outscore its three postseason foes, 24-5, to claim the conference crown.

Cornell clinched its third consecutive 20-win season under Ness, who had only one senior starter in this year's lineup. The Rams led the MWC in 10 offensive categories, including a .320 team batting average. The pitching staff was No. 1 in the league in ERA (2.31) and strikeouts (209).