The 2014 NCAC Softball Tournament is set for Friday and Saturday, May 2-3, at DePauw University. The Tigers earned the right to host after winning the NCAC championship with a regular season mark of 13-3 in league play. 2014 marks the second-straight NCAC softball title for DePauw.
As the top seed, DePauw (13-3, 23-17) meets fourth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (9-7, 22-16) in the opening round of the double elimination tournament on Friday at 12:00 PM. Second-seeded Wittenberg (11-5, 21-9) opens the tournament on Friday morning at 10:00 AM with a showdown against third-seeded Denison (10-6, 20-14).
The double-elimination tournament continues on Friday afternoon with the winners of the days' first two games squaring off for a slot in the championship round at 2:00 PM, while the losers of the opening-round games will meet on Friday at 4:00 PM in an elimination game, with the winner moving on to face the loser of Friday's third game at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning to determine the final slot in the championship round. Saturday's championship round will be played at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM (if necessary).
Since the inception of the NCAC Softball Tournament in the 2001 season, Denison has claimed six tournament titles (2001-02, '06, '08, '10, '12). Allegheny is second with four tourney titles (2004-05, '07, '13), Hiram has won two titles (2009, '11) and Wittenberg secured the tournament title in the 2003 season.
ALLEGHENY went 1-5 over the final week of the regular season, losing a pair at Case and Kenyon sandwiching Wednesday's split at Oberlin. Senior Maureen Pallone (New Kensington, PA/Valley) led the way offensively, batting .455 (5-for-11) with a double and three RBI, while junior Sadie Stuart (Jamestown, NY/Falconer Central) hit at a .368 clip (7-for-19) with three doubles and three runs scored. Sophomore Katrina George (New Kensington, PA/Valley) hit her seventh homer of the season at Oberlin, which proved to be the game-winner.
DENISON went 6-2 in eight games last week, and clinched the No. 3 seed in the NCAC Tournament after going 4-2 in conference games over the last seven days. Junior third baseman Julie Rooney (Munroe Falls, OH/Stow-Munroe Falls) caught fire last week, posting a .533 batting average (16-for-30) with a .633 slugging percentage. Rooney also had 17 putouts and 11 assists with no errors in the field. Senior Gretchen Staubach (Madeira, OH/Madeira) also provided some pop with a.423 average, a .615 slugging percentage, two doubles and a home run. Inside the circle, senior Rebecca Dyer (Shelby Township, MI/Detroit Country Day) and freshman Erin Laswell (Plainfield, IN/Plainfield) combined for a 5-1 record, a 0.65 ERA and three complete-game shutouts. Dyer went 3-0 with two shutouts, a 0.91 ERA and 36 strikeouts, including a career-high 14 in a nine-inning win over Kenyon. Laswell allowed just one earned run in 20 innings of work.
DEPAUW clinched its second straight NCAC softball title with a 3-1 conference record last week, splitting with Wittenberg and sweeping Wooster. Junior Jennifer Ridge (Bloomington, IN/Bloomington North) put together an outstanding week at the plate for the Tigers hitting .556 (10-for-18), scoring five runs and accounting for two RBI and 12 total bases. In the circle for DePauw, Kahla Nolan (West Chicago, IL/Wheaton North) went 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA on the week, striking out 22 in 32.1 innings of work.
HIRAM finished the 2014 season by posting a 3-3 record last week to bring its overall record for the year to 13-19. Senior Sarah Loyer (Barrie, Ontario/St. Joseph's) continued her hot streak for the Terriers, batting .550 (11-for-20) with four runs scored, 14 total bases, six RBI and two stolen bases.
KENYON had a busy final week of the season. After dropping two non-conference games to Capital on Monday, the Ladies swept Allegheny on Saturday and split with Denison on Sunday. That left the Ladies with a final overall record of 22-16 and a conference mark of 7-9. During the course of the week, junior pitcher Maddy Stark (Glenview, IL/Glenbrook South) set both the program records for strikeouts in a season (126) and a career (317). At the plate, sophomore Lindsey Susolik (Newport Beach, CA/Corona Del Mar) was a combined 7-for-18 (.389) with three runs scored and four RBI in Kenyon's six games.
OBERLIN set a school record for conference wins in a season with five following its 9-3 victory over Allegheny. Senior Melanie Budney (Chester, NJ/West Morris Mendham) went 2-for-4 in that game with two-RBI and a run scored.
OHIO WESLEYAN is returning to the NCAC Tournament for the first time since 2011 after splitting conference series with Denison and Hiram to end the year with a 9-7 league record, claiming the No. 4 seed. The Bishops finished last week with a 4-2 record thanks to a sweep of non-conference foe Adrian. Sophomore outfielder Lilly Gresh (Westerville, OH/North) was a force at the plate by hitting .611 (11-for-18) with nine runs, five RBI, 14 total bases, one stolen base and a .682 on base percentage.
WITTENBERG split the week with a doubleheader sweep of Hiram, a split against DePauw and a pair of losses to Muskingum. Freshman Abby Baker (Canfield, OH/Canfield) lit up opposing pitching, finishing the week by hitting .476 (10-21) with a team-best six RBI and four doubles, while senior Laura Rose (Riverside, OH/Stebbins) added to her own Wittenberg career record for home runs with three on top of a double for a .739 slugging percentage.
WOOSTER closed out the 2014 season with a 1-5 record last week, splitting a non-conference series with Heidelberg, sandwiched around NCAC sweeps by Denison and DePauw. The Fighting Scots finished the year with a 12-27 overall record. In the win over Heidelberg, junior short-stop Carly Schoenstein (Bethel Park, PA/Bethel Park) capped off a four-run seventh inning with a two-out, two-run walk-off home run for the 5-4 win.