Tigers win NCAC softball title, heading back to NCAA

Monday, May 8, 2017
Gabby Smart

Coming off its third North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament title, the 23-19 DePauw softball team travels to Alma where it will open NCAA Division III Regional play on Friday against the host Scots. Illinois Wesleyan and Otterbein square off in the other regional opening round contest.

The Scots are 27-8 overall and coming off the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament title on Friday.

The Tigers are making their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance and ninth in the last 11 years with an all-time postseason record of 31-19. DePauw teams advanced to the final eight four times, finishing in a tie for fifth each time.

The winner of the four-team regional advances to the best-of-three super regional series, May 19-20, with that winner advancing to the NCAA finals in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 25-30.

DePauw nearly battled back from a 4-0 deficit before falling against Dension (4-3) in the first championship game of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, but the Tigers left no doubt in winning the “if necessary” game, 6-0, to claim their third NCAC tourney title.

The tournament title gave DePauw its fourth straight NCAA appearance and ninth in the last 11 seasons. DePauw heads to the postseason with a 23-19 record, while Denison is now 29-16. The NCAA Division III Selection Show is slated for 1 p.m. tomorrow on NCAA.com.

In the first game against Denison, the teams battled through four scoreless innings before the Big Red broke through for four in the fifth.

The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the seventh as Abey Bass led off with a walk and moved to third on two wild pitches. Mina Shaw drew a walk and Andi Sarkisian entered as a pinch-runner.

Sarkisian moved up to second before Gabby Smart hammered a three-run homer to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Liz Getz singled and moved to third on Julia Bork’s sacrifice bunt, but the game ended after Lauren Godden flied out to center.

Sidney Holler and Jordyn Fera each had two of DePauw’s nine hits, while six different Denison players collected one each.

Brooke Bandy dropped to 6-10 with the defeat and struck out four in 4 1/3 innings. Erin Laswell improved to 10-4, while Taryn Welch picked up her first save.

In the final championship game, DePauw took a 1-0 lead in the second as Bass and Smart each singled with two outs and Kat Panos delivered an RBI single. In the third, Getz led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Godden doubled her home and moved to third on Holler’s single. Alyssa Nowak entered as a pinch-runner for Godden and scored on Fera’s single. Smart made it 5-0 with a two-run single.

The Tigers added a final run in the fifth as Bass singled and scored on Smart’s double.

Smart led the Tigers with three of their 14 hits, while Bass added a pair. In all, 11 different players collected hits in the win. Emma Baldwin, who shut out Denison in 2015 by the exact same score in the “if necessary” game, allowed six hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. to move to 8-8.

Smart was named the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates, Fera, Getz and Holler.

NCAC All-Tournament Team

MVP — Gabby Smart (DePauw)

Pitcher — Erin Laswell (Denison)

Pitcher — Emma Baldwin (DePauw)

Chelsea Zang (Wittenberg)

Chelsea Copley (Wooster)

Jenna Kendall (Wooster)

Kerry Hager (Denison)

Lindsey Clemson (Denison)

Charlotte Happel (Denison)

Jordyn Fera (DePauw)

Liz Getz (DePauw)

Sidney Holler (DePauw)

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