Wittenberg (32-7-1) captured its second North Coast Athletic Conference softball tournament championship after defeating DePauw (29-16), 12-3, in game seven of the 2016 NCAC Softball Tournament on Saturday in Greencastle, Indiana. Game seven was needed after DePauw earned a 5-2 victory over Wittenberg in the first championship game. In game seven, Katy Baumgartner (Fishers, IN/Cathedral) went 2-for-4 at the plate with a triple, two runs scored and two RBI. Sophomore pitcher Chelsea Zang (Cincinnati, OH/Seton) earned her 18th win of the season and second of the tournament after pitching 4.1 innings, allowing just three hits, zero earned runs and striking out two DPU Tigers.
The Springfield Tigers opened the tournament with a 6-5 victory over Denison (22-16) in the opening round on Friday, and advanced to the championship round after knocking off fourth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (16-21), 7-3, in the winners’ bracket later in the day. After losing its opener against OWU, the DPU Tigers advanced to the championship round by winning back-to-back elimination games against Denison, 4-1, and Ohio Wesleyan, 5-2.
Casey Hobbs (Fairborn, OH/Carroll) of Wittenberg was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAC Tournament, joining Tiger teammates Zang, Baumgartner, Kaela Hughes (Upper Arlington, OH/Watterson) and Loren Combs (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) on the All-Tournament team. In four games, Hobbs batted .533 (8-for-15) with seven RBI, 12 total bases, two runs scored, two stolen bases, one home run, one double and slugged an even .800 on the weekend.
Four DePauw players were named to the All-Tournament team, including Liz Getz (Bloomington, IN/Bloomington South), Haleigh Chasteen (Avon, IN/Avon), Sidney Holler (Overland Park, KS/Shawnee Mission South) and Emma Baldwin (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park River Forest). Also, named to the All-Tournament team were Ohio Wesleyan’s Sarah Flint (Westerville, OH/St. Francis DeSales) and Amanda Boyle (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Falls), and Denison’s Ryan Lee (Wilmette, IL/New Trier).
2016 marks the first time in conference history that the NCAC will be represented by multiple teams in the national tournament. Wittenberg received the league’s automatic bid, while DePauw received on of 18 “Pool C” at-large bids.
Wittenberg, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Laura Matthews, will play in its third NCAA Tournament in program history at the Alma Regional on Friday, May 13, against Heidelberg (28-11) at 1:00 p.m. at Scots Park in Alma, Michigan. Heidelberg is the automatic qualifier out of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) and enters its second-straight National Tournament. The winner of the Wittenberg/Heidelberg game will square off against the winner of host Alma (32-8)/Benedictine (33-14) on Saturday, May 14, at 11:00 a.m., while the loser will take on the loser of the same opening round game between Alma and Benedictine on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in an elimination game. Wittenberg holds an all-time record of 2-4 in the NCAA Tournament with its last appearance coming back in 2003.
DePauw has earned its eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 10 years and third-straight under head coach Erica Hanrahan. Hanrahan has guided the Tigers to a 7-5 record in NCAA postseason play including a fifth-place finish last year. The Tigers will travel to Bloomington, Illinois, for the Illinois Wesleyan Regional where they will face Washington-St. Louis (34-10) on Friday. With a victory over Wash. U., DePauw would move on to the winners’ bracket semifinal against either Illinois Wesleyan (30-10) or Hanover (18-18). Should the Tigers lose in the opening round, DePauw would meet the loser of the Ill. Wesleyan and Hanover contest in an elimination game.