DePauw (23-20) captured its second-straight and fourth overall North Coast Athletic Conference softball tournament championship after defeating Denison (26-10), 5-4, in game the championship of the 2017 NCAC Softball Tournament on Sunday in Springfield, Ohio.
In game 6, Sidney Holler (Overland Park, KS/Shawnee Mission South) went 2-for-4 from the plate and delivered the game-winning RBI in to bottom of the seventh inning. Senior pitcher Emma Baldwin (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park River Forest) earned her 10th win of the season and second of the tournament after a complete game effort in which she struck out five. With the victory, the Tigers have earned the league’s automatic bid into the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.
DePauw opened the tournament with a 5-4 victory over the Big Red in 10-innings in the opening round on Friday, and advanced to the championship round after knocking off top-seeded Wittenberg (24-17), 2-0, 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 Allegheny (18-15), 2-0, and the Springfield Tigers, 5-4 in 13-innings.
Baldwin was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAC Tournament, joining Tiger teammates Holler, Brooke Bandy (Elmhurst, ILYork) and Liz Getz (Bloomington, IN/Bloomington South) on the All-Tournament team. In two appearances in the circle, Baldwin posted a 2-0 record with a 2.28 ERA in 15.1 innings of work, striking out 12, allowing 15 hits and held batters to a .254 average on the weekend.
Four Denison players were named to the All-Tournament team as well, including Sarah Herold (Orland Park, IL/Carl Sandburg), Laura Bagan (Winnetka, IL/New Trier), Lindsey Clemson (Canton, OH/Jackson) and McKinley Vazquez (Upper Arlington, OH/Upper Arlington). Also, named to the All-Tournament team were Wittenberg’s Chelsea Zang (Cincinnati, OH/Seton) and Victoria Toetz (Indianapolis, IN/Bishop Chatard), and Allegheny’s Hayley Behr (Pittsburgh, PA/North Hills) and Jessica Zavolta (Level Green, PA/Penn-Tratford).
DePauw has earned its 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last 12 years and fifth-straight under head coach Erica Hanrahan. Hanrahan has guided the Tigers to a 9-9 record in NCAA postseason play, including a fifth-place finish in 2015. The Tigers will travel to Bloomington, Illinois, for the Illinois Wesleyan Regional where they will face Transylvania (32-7) on Friday. With a victory over Transy, DePauw would move on to the winners’ bracket semifinal against either Illinois Wesleyan (31-10-1) or Thomas More (31-14). Should the Tigers lose in the opening round, DePauw would meet the loser of the Ill. Wesleyan and Thomas More contest in an elimination game.
The regional round will be held May 11-13. 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 18 and 19. The finals, hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association, will be held May 24-29 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All rounds will use a double-elimination format.