DePauw secures NCAC softball regular season title, tournament top spot with Hiram split
HIRAM, OH — Sixth-ranked DePauw University secured the outright North Coast Athletic Conference regular season title Monday after a split at Hiram.
The Tigers defeated the Terriers 3-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, clinching the conference title in the process thanks to Paige Price’s fifth inning triple and a sac fly from Jade Mejia Wick and Kelsey Bernhard single in the sixth inning to account for all three runs.
Cami Henry tossed seven innings of two-hit softball, walking two while striking out 11 to move to 23-5 on the season.
With the conference title secured, a heavily changed lineup was unable to see DePauw to an unbeaten conference slate, falling 9-3 in the second game of the double header.
Alyssa Anderson dropped a bunt single to score Wick in the third inning while Grace Smith tripled in the fourth inning to bring in Katie Mathies. Goose Moore singled home Lily Jennings in the seventh to try and start a late rally but there was no more runs forthcoming.
Kandra Butcher took the loss, pitching 2 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs. Kersten Brayton pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs while striking out three and Riley Magoon gave up a run in an inning of work.
On Sunday, DePauw extended its win streak to 17 and stayed perfect in the NCAC with a sweep of Kenyon by scores of 4-3 and 3-2 in a 10-inning nightcap. DePauw moved to 30-6 overall and 14-0 in the NCAC and clinching a share of the NCAC title. Kenyon dropped to 24-16 overall and 6-10 in the NCAC.
Kenyon took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of game one as Grace Finn led off the game by being hit by a pitch. Sara Campagna and Bella Albrecht followed with singles to load the bases before Natalya Delsante drove in Finn with a base hit.
DePauw scored a pair in the second as Chase Epp led off with a double and pinch-runner Riley Heim stole third. Heim scored on Kate Geary’s bunt single. Geary stole second and third before coming home on Caleigh Cramer’s ground out. Mejia Wick beat the throw to home on Cramer’s bases loaded grounder in the third which gave DePauw a 3-1 lead.
Kenyon evened the contest at 3-3 with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Paige Price’s two-out walk in the sixth was followed by Mejia Wick’s double before Epp’s single to short brought home Price.
Mejia Wick and Epp each had three of DePauw’s 10 hits, while Price added two. Albrecht led Kenyon with two of its six hits.
Henry improved to 21-5 and struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings of hitless relief. Nicole Bishay dropped to 15-5.
In the second game, the teams fought through five scoreless innings before Kenyon took the lead in the sixth when Emily Buckwalter led off with a double and pinch-runner Persy Hort moved to third on Julia Holton’s single. Bishay then hit a sacrifice fly that scored Hort.
DePauw knotted the contest in the bottom of the sixth as Cramer singled with one out and pinch-runner Jennings scored on Ali Dierks’ double.
The game stayed tied until the 10th when the tiebreaker rule came into play. Rimel was placed on second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Maddie Friday’s base hit. Henry retired the final three batters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 10th, Katerina Kilgore was placed on second and moved to third on Alyssa Anderson’s bunt single. Anderson stole second and Geary walked to load the bases. Price’s grounder to second scored Kilgore before Grace Smith delivered the walk-off single to left.
Price had two of DePauw’s nine hits, while Friday had two of Kenyon’s six hits.
Henry improved to 22-5 after one inning of relief. Emily Pater dropped to 9-9 with the loss.
The 2022 NCAC Softball Tournament is set for Friday and Saturday, May 6-7, at DePauw University. The Tigers earned the right to host the two-day event after winning the NCAC regular-season championship.
As the top seed, DePauw (15-1) meets fourth-seeded Wooster (8-8) in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament on Friday at 12:30 p.m. Second-seeded Hiram (13-3) opens the tournament on Friday morning at 10 a.m. with a showdown against third-seeded Denison (8-8). The Big Red claimed the tiebreaker over the Fighting Scots for the third seed in the field.
The double-elimination tournament continues on Friday afternoon with the winners of the day’s first two games squaring off for a slot in the championship round at 3 p.m., while the losers of the opening-round games will meet on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in an elimination game, with the winner moving on to face the loser of Friday’s third game at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning to determine the final slot in the championship round. Saturday’s championship round will be played at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. (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), as has DePauw (2014, ‘15, 2017-19, ‘21)). Allegheny (2004-05, ‘07, ‘13) has four tournament titles, while Hiram (2009, ‘11) and Wittenberg (2003, ‘16) have each claimed two tournament titles. Wooster is on the hunt for its first NCAC Tournament title.