Kukura and Labs on Fire Earning Player of the Week and Rookie Honors

James Miranda, Sports Editor

Pace outfielders John Kukura and Larissa Labs picked up NE-10, ECAC and NCBWA honors for their outstanding performances on the field.

Kukura was named to three different awards for his performance on March 24 – March 29. He was named NE-10 Player of the Week on Mon. March 30. On Tues., March 30 he earned ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) Hitter of the Week, and NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) Hitter of the Week.

“[Pace] plays in a great conference with extremely good competition and ball players, and to be recognized as the player of the week was an honor,” Kukura said. “Being recognized as the NCBWA and ECAC hitter of the week, I was shocked.”

From March 24 to March 29, Kukura batted .550 (11-20) with a homer, nine RBIs, and six runs scored. Within that time, the Setters baseball team (10-10, 4-3 NE-10) had a 4-1 record. Collectively, Pace outscored the opposition 35-11.

“What’s going right is that I’m confident when I go into the games,” Kukura said. “I know I have a great team by my side.”

The great team he’s referring to also has some great pitching. Junior and starting pitcher Josh Garran has been on fire ever since his complete game shutout of Dominican College back on March 18. Garran since then has pitched 21 innings allowing one run, his first since his first outing of the season. His ERA is currently at 2.05. Garran was named NE-10 Pitcher of the Week back on March 24.

Garran’s just another reason why Kukura is so confident when he’s out there.

“Josh is definitely doing his job on the mound,” Kukura said. “We know that when he has the ball he’s going to give us his best effort and that will put us in a good position to win as long as we do our jobs as a team, and so far that has been the case.”

With a lot of success and excitement comes the big question: can they make the playoffs? They did not last year and some players admitted last year was not a good season. Kukura said that despite the success the Setters have to take it game by game and can’t look ahead to that.

“I don’t think it’s too early to talk about playoffs,” Kukura said. “We had a rough season last year, but everyone this year has a bad taste from last year and the freshmen have adapted the same mindset as we do and that is to make a run for the postseason.”

However, Pace Softball (14-6, 6-3 NE-10) has been better.

They’ve been hitting and pitching. If you look at their schedule, there are Ws everywhere. And one of the reasons they’ve been this good is their rookie outfield Labs.

Labs won the NE-10 and ECAC Rookie of the Week for her performance from March 24 to March 29, just like Kukura. Within that time she posted a .471 (8-17) batting average, drove in three RBIs and scored five runs. The Setters were 3-2 within that span.

“I was definitely surprised about not only getting NE-10, but also ECAC Rookie of the week,” Labs said. “I guess I’m just not thinking as much and just playing defense and offense the best that I can and to leave it all out on the field.”

However, the consistency has continued. Between five games on Wednesday – Friday, Labs is 7-18 (.389) and the Setters are 3-1. She’s kept her philosophy at the plate and fielding, but she’s also met her expectations.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and get my job done, so that I can help my team win,” Labs said. “I am meeting my expectations, but I can push myself to always do better.”

While Kukura was humble about the possibility of the postseason, Labs is more boisterous that it’ll happen. Pace softball started off well winning four-straight games and have won five-straight earlier in the season. They’ve won four of their last six games and constantly new cogs in the team are shining.

“I believe that we will make it to playoffs, like I said before we just need to all do our jobs as one and we will be an unstoppable team,” Labs said.

Pace softball and baseball currently stand at the top of the Southwest Division in the NE-10 Conference. Softball has the overall best record in the conference.

The Setters will look to continue their respective playoff pushes this upcoming week as softball takes on Southern Connecticut State University on April 9 for a double header, while baseball takes on Saint Anselm College for a double header on Sat., April 11.