ANGOLA, Ind. -- The Trine softball team will open its performance in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder will face Amherst in the opening game of the Championship May 25 at 11 a.m. CDT. Trine will be making its second National Championship appearance. The Thunder opened postseason play by winning the Whitewater Regional and captured the Angola Super Regional title at home this past weekend. The team enters the National Championship 37-8 overall and has won all five of its NCAA postseason games.
Amherst won the Springfield Regional before defeating Ramapo to win the Super Regional this past weekend. The Mammoths have not lost in NCAA postseason play. Amherst placed second in the West Division of the New England Small College Athletic Conference and carries a 33-10 overall record into Thursday's action.
The eight-team NCAA Division III Softball Championship is being hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, one of the premier softball facilities in the nation. The complex plays host to the NCAA Women's College World Series annually.
The winner of Thursday's game advances to face the winner of the matchup between Texas-Tyler and Virginia Wesleyan Friday at 6:30 p.m. CDT. The two losing teams will meet in an elimination game Friday at 11 a.m. CDT.
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Trine has led the nation in home runs for much of the season, belting 59 home runs thus far. The team has hit six of those runs in NCAA postseason play. Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio / Edison) has hit 16 home runs this year to rank second in the nation and become the school's all-time leader with 45 career homers. As a team, the Thunder are slugging .520 and have five players slugging .500 or better.
Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Angola Super Regional after batting .625 (5-for-8) in two games. Catherine Porter (Canton, Mich. / Plymouth Canton) is batting .500 with three RBIs in postseason play. Trine is averaging 6.2 runs per game in the postseason.
Danielle Ray (Hamilton, Ohio / Badin) has notched two wins and two saves with a 2.62 ERA in postseason action. She was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Angola Super Regional.
Amherst has outscored its opponents 25-5 in the postseason. Pitcher Gina Pagan has been a big reason for the team's postseason success, having been recognized as the Most Outstanding Player of the Springfield Regional and earning Most Outstanding Pitcher honors in the Super Regional. Pagan is 22-4 with a 1.30 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 156.1 innings.
Lauren Tuiskula was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Amherst Super Regional with four hits, three RBIs, two runs scored and two triples in two games. Pagan, Tuiskula, second baseman Sammy Salustri and Kyra Naftel were NFCA All-Region selections.
A brief look at each of the other participants in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship can be found below.
The Patriots are the defending National Champions and have been ranked among the top five teams in the nation for much of this season. Texas-Tyler has gone 5-0 in postseason play and owns an overall record of 44-4. The team is batting .389 overall to lead the nation. The Patriots also lead the nation in fielding percentage.
Outfielder Kylee Prather, catcher KK Stevens and outfielder Cheyenne Thompson earned first team honors on the NFCA All-Region team. Prather is a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award. Pitcher Alaina Kissinger and first baseman Andrea Gonzales also earned All-Region honors.
Trine and UT-Tyler last met at the 2016 NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic. The Patriots earned a 5-0 victory in that meeting.
The Marlins are making their first appearance in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship. Virginia Wesleyan was the consensus No. 1 team in the nation in the latest Top 25 poll released by the NFCA and has an overall record of 48-2. The team has not allowed a run in any of its five NCAA postseason games. The Marlins' 0.80 team ERA leads the nation.
Pitcher Hannah Hull allowed just four hits in 14 innings of work in the Super Regional. Hull has not allowed a run over the course of her last six appearances. Hull, Cassetty Howerin, Kierstin Richardson and Courtney Wright earned All-Region honors.
The Thunder and Virginia Wesleyan have met once all time. Trine earned a 2-1 victory over the Marlins at the 2016 NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic.
The Titans rallied back after dropping the first game of their Super Regional matchup with Transylvania to earn the national bid. It was the second consecutive year the team won two in a row to stave off elimination in the Super Regional round. IWU is making its second consecutive appearance in the National Championship. The team enters the national finals 36-13 overall.
Brea Walker earned Most Outstanding Pitcher honors in the Super Regional round and threw 14.1 innings with just two runs allowed between the two wins Saturday. Center fielder Jillian Runyon and shortstop Sam Berghoff earned NFCA All-Region honors.
Trine last met the Titans earlier this year in a slugfest in Florida. The Thunder earned a 12-10 victory in that game. Trine is 2-1 all-time against IWU.
The Wildcats defeated arch-rival St. Thomas to win its first Super Regional title and advance to the National Championship. After dropping its first game in the Regional round to University of Chicago, St. Catherine has won six consecutive games. St. Catherine is 38-12 overall this season.
Pitcher Krista Flugstad has been the Wildcats' workhorse in the postseason. She owns a 29-5 record to go along with an ERA in the low-1.00s. Third baseman Jenna George was named the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's Player of the Year. George leads the team with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Trine and St. Catherine have never met all-time.
St. John Fisher
The Cardinals have not lost in NCAA postseason play and defeated SUNY-Cortland in the Super Regional to reach the National Championship. St. John Fisher has a 41-6 record. The team ranks second in the nation with an 0.79 ERA. The team has tossed 19 shutouts while also averaging over six and a half runs per game.
This is the second consecutive trip to the National Championship for the Cardinals. Katie Mazierski was named the Empire 8 Conference's Player of the Year, while pitcher Lindsay Thayer won Pitcher of the Year honors. Thayer leads the nation with an 0.42 ERA.
Trine is 2-1 all-time against St. John Fisher, though the two teams have not met since 2007.
The Ephs had to go to three games to defeat Babson to advance to the National Championship. Williams owns an overall record of 36-11. The Ephs are one of the top power-hitting teams in the country, with 48 home runs in 47 games. Williams is slugging .498 as a team.
Lexi Curt leads the Ephs with 10 home runs and was the NESAC Player of the Year. Makenzie Murphy and pitcher Rebecca Duncan joined Curt on the NFCA All-Region team. Duncan was also the NESAC's Rookie of the Year.
Trine and Williams have never met.
For more information on the NCAA Division III Softball Championship, visit NCAA.com.