Local grads primed for NCAA D-I Softball Tournament

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Three local grads have their sights set on a NCAA D-I Softball National Championship.

(Photo Courtesy: Steve Edgerly, @VUSoftball, @UAlbanySB)

Tess Cites, Wendi Hammond, and Sarah Coon will all have a shot to play for a national softball title, at the Division I college level. Sunday night, the 64 team field for the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament was revealed, sending the area’s best across the country to the regional round. The regional round of the national tournament is a double-elimination format, bringing 4 teams together in 16 total quadrants.

A look at each regional featuring a local grad, and their opening game is listed below:

Fayetteville Regional – Villanova vs. Arizona – Friday, May 17th at 6 p.m. on ESPN+
Horseheads grad Tess Cites helped Villanova to their 3rd Big East Tournament title in the past 4 years. The conference championship win landed the Wildcats in the Fayetteville, Arkansas Regional, where their will open up against Arizona. The other 2 teams in the bracket are Southeast Missouri State and the 12th seeded hosts Arkansas. The Razorbacks roster features Corning grad Atalyia Rijo, who has unfortunately been limited with injury this season.

For Cites, 2024 has been a memorable senior season. The 2023 Big East Player of the Year is batting .313 with 49 runs, 24 RBI, 8 doubles, and 9 home runs on 52 hits. The former all-state selection will look to lead the Wildcats on her 3rd trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Bryan-College Station Regional – UAlbany at #16 Texas A&M – Friday, May 17th at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+
It has been a thrilling season for UAlbany softball. Led by a banner graduate year from Waverly grad Wendi Hammond, the Great Danes are set to travel to Texas for the Bryan-College Station Regional. UAlbany will battle the 16th seeded hosts Texas A&M, in their opener. The other 2 teams in the bracket are Penn State and Texas State.

Hammond will carry a long list of accolades into the big dance, following the team’s 1st America East tournament title win since 2018. The Chemung native earned the Most Outstanding Player Award and an All-Championship team selection, to go with the conference crown. Additionally, Hammond was named as the America East Pitcher of the Year and earned All-Conference honors, as well as an All-Academic nod. Hammond is (24-8) with a 1.91 ERA, 129 strikeouts, 8 shutouts, and a save.

Knoxville Regional – Miami (O.H.) vs Virginia – Friday, May 17th at 12 p.m. on ESPN+
Elmira’s Sarah Coon and the Virginia Cavaliers will head to Tennessee, after receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cavs (32-18) will be making their 1st NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010, and will look to improve on a 1st round exit from the ACC Tournament. The other 2 teams in the bracket are Dayton and the 3rd seeded hosts Tennessee.

For Coon, the junior turned in another impressive season. Virginia’s 1st ever ACC All-Freshman team selection (2022), is batting .218 with 17 runs, 24 RBI, 4 doubles, and 5 home runs on 31 hits.

For an interactive look at the full NCAA D-I Softball bracket, visit

Stick with 18 Sports for the latest on Cites, Hammond, and Coon, as they chase down a national title.

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