DePauw (23-19) captured its third North Coast Athletic Conference softball tournament championship after defeating Denison (29-16), 6-0, in game 7 of the 2017 NCAC Softball Tournament on Sunday in Springfield, Ohio. Game 7 was needed after Denison earned a 4-3 victory over DePauw in the first championship game.
In game 7, Gabby Smart (Chicago, IL/Trinity) went 3-for-3 from the plate with a double and three RBI. Junior pitcher Emma Baldwin (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park River Forest) earned her eighth win of the season and second of the tournament after pitching a seven-inning shutout, allowing just six hits and striking out seven. With the victory, the Tigers have earned the league’s automatic bid into the 2017 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.
DePauw opened the tournament with a 4-3 victory over the Big Red in the opening round on Saturday, and advanced to the championship round after knocking off fourth-seeded Wooster (20-23), 4-3, in the winners’ bracket later in the day. After losing its opener against DePauw, Denison advanced to the championship round by winning back-to-back elimination games against Wittenberg (29-7), 2-0, and the Fighting Scots, 11-1.
Smart was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAC Tournament, joining Tiger teammates Baldwin, Jordyn Fera (Hoffman Estates, IL/Hoffman Estates), Liz Getz (Bloomington, IN/Bloomington South) and Sidney Holler (Overland Park, KS/Shawnee Mission South) on the All-Tournament team. In four games, Smart batted .500 (6-for-12) with seven RBI, 10 total bases, one home run, one run scored and slugged .833 on the weekend.
Four Denison players were named to the All-Tournament team as well, including Erin Laswell (Plainfield, IN/Plainfield), Kerry Hager (Louisville, KY/Eastern), Lindsey Clemson (Canton, OH/Jackson) and Charlotte Happel (Louisville, KY/Louisville Collegiate). Also, named to the All-Tournament team were Wooster’s Chelsea Copley (Bidwell, OHRiver Valley) and Jenna Kendall (Marshallville, OH/Smithville), and Wittenberg’s Chelsea Zang (Cincinnati, OH/Seton).
DePauw has earned its ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 11 years and fourth-straight under head coach Erica Hanrahan. Hanrahan has guided the Tigers to a 9-7 record in NCAA postseason play, including a fifth-place finish in 2015. The Tigers will travel to Alma, Michigan, for the Alma Regional where they will face the host Scots (27-8) on Friday. With a victory over Alma, DePauw would move on to the winners’ bracket semifinal against either Illinois Wesleyan (31-12) or Otterbein (34-6). Should the Tigers lose in the opening round, DePauw would meet the loser of the Ill. Wesleyan and Otterbein contest in an elimination game.
The regional round will be held May 12-14. Four teams will compete at 14 regional sites and three teams will compete at two regional sites. The team advancing from each regional will compete in the super regional round May 19 and 20. The finals, hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association, will be held May 25-30 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All rounds will use a double-elimination format.