The Albany Great Danes defeated the UMass Lowell River Hawks 4-1 Sunday afternoon at the Bearcats Sports Complex to capture the America East softball championship.  The Great Danes won the regular season championship and came into the tournament as the top seed.  The River Hawks were the second seed.

In the double elimination format and with Albany falling to UMass Lowell earlier in the tournament the Great Danes were facing elimination when they met the River Hawks in the first game on Sunday.  Albany came from behind to defeat UMass Lowell 4-3 to send the title contest to a second game on Sunday afternoon.

In that second game the Great Danes used a pair of two-run innings to clinch the championship by defeating UMass Lowell 4-1 and take home their second consecutive conference championship.

One of the keys for Albany's success is catcher and former Chenango Valley standout catcher Chelsea Henige.  Henige went 9-15 in the tournament with a pair of home runs.  Henige has had an outstanding season for the Great Danes. She is currently hitting .366 with four home runs and 27 runs batted in while in the clean-up position.  She has shined defensively as well making just two errors.

Henige played before a number of family members and friends.  She earned Second Team All-Conference honors and was named to the All Championship Team for her outstanding play this past weekend.  Her season is far from over.  Albany earned an automatic bid to play in the NCAA Tournament with the America East title.  The Great Danes will travel to play in the Eugene, Oregon Regional and on Thursday they meet the top-seeded Oregon Ducks on Thursday night.

WNBF News/Roger Neel Photo