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Softball NCAA Regional preview

Softball NCAA Regional preview

SPOKANE, Wash. – After winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team earned an automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament. The Athenas were sent, along with Linfield and George Fox to Spokane, Wash. for a four-team regional hosted by Whitworth. Consistent with the NCAA's regional rankings, CMS earned the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 Whitworth, No. 3 Linfield, and No. 4 George Fox.

All the games will be played at Whitworth's Diana Marks Field and the winner of the tournament will advance to play the winner of the Tyler (Texas) Regional in one of eight Super Regionals next weekend. Tickets are $10 per day but the video broadcast and live stats are both free. For directions and facility information etc., vistit the Tournament Homepage.

Tournament Schedule:

Friday, May 13
Game 1 (1:00 pm): Whitworth (#2 seed) vs. Linfield (#3 seed)
Game 2 (3:30 pm):  CMS (#1 seed) vs. George Fox (#4 seed)

Saturday, May 14           
Game 3 (11:00 am): Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 4 (1:30 pm):  Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
Game 5 (4:00 pm):  Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4

Sunday. May 15
Game 6 (Noon): Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 5
Game 7 (2:30 pm): Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 6 (If necessary)

The 2016 season marks the CMS' seventh NCAA appearance and fifth 30-plus win season, all under head coach Betsy Hipple. At 34-8-1, the Athenas are on a five game winning streak after sweeping through the conference tournament. SCIAC Pitcher of the Year, Anna Gurr (CMC), leads from the circle with a 1.14 ERA and nine shutouts (seventh in the country). Defensively behind her, the team ranks fourth in the nation at a .971 fielding percentage and has shut out their opponents 18 times. Offensively, all-SCIAC first teamers Tara Robinson (CMC) and Katie Savard (CMC) lead hitting .426 and .373 on the season. Four Athenas have four home runs each – Carly Roleder (CMC), Abigail Metsch (SCR), Carlene Roberts (CMC) – contributing to a team slugging percentage at .447.

All three other teams are members of the Northwest Conference (NWC). Whitworth won the NWC regular season (20-8) and hosted the conference tournament. The Pirates were ousted by George Fox in the semifinal and then Linfield beat the Bruins 12-2 in the championship game.

Making the program's first-ever NCAA appearance, George Fox (30-14) matches up with CMS in the first game. This season, the Bruins recorded their second-straight 30-plus win season and finished second in the NWC Tournament. As a team, the Bruins are hitting .285 with an on base percentage of .362. They are 16th in the nation in homeruns per game with an average of .82. Kayla Anderson, who leads the Bruins in almost every offensive category – batting average (.355), hits (54), doubles (14) and slugging percentage (.618) – has just one strikeout in 152 at bats. The Bruins rely on Madison Sorensen and Abbie Bergerson in the circle, as the pair has combined for 26 wins on the season and Sorensen leads the conference with 112 strikeouts.

Whitworth is 29-13 this season after claiming their second-consecutive NWC regular season title. This will be the program's second trip to the NCAA tournament and first since 2006. Makayla Leferver tops the NWC with 19 wins and boasts a 1.98 ERA. Offensively, Chelsey Hayes leads the team with a .424 batting average and 32 RBI. Alyssa Hall and Shannon Wessel combine for 35 of the team's 66 stolen bases and Wessel also leads with four homeruns. The Pirates traveled to Southern California in February and swept Pomona-Pitzer (3-0, 7-3) and split with Redlands (3-2 L, 3-2 W). Against Linfield this year, they are 2-3 playing all five games in the time since Apr. 16.

Linfield (29-13) is a familiar foe for the Athenas and has a 6-6 record against CMS since the 2009 season. This is the Wildcats' 13th NCAA appearance. Sophomore outfielder Melanie Oord leads the team with a .456 batting average and Jacinda Swiger is hitting .403 as the Wildcats' leadoff hitter. Linfield hit 33 home runs this spring, including nine by Danielle Duman. In addition to the long ball, the Wildcats are also effective running the base paths where they have totaled 55 stolen bases. Shelby Saylors emerged as the centerpiece of the pitching staff with a 17-4 record and 2.12 ERA.

Tournament Homepage | Video | Live Stats | NCAA Bracket

By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director

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