Defending champions at the Division II and Division III levels have seen their 2011 title runs come to an end following the first weekend of tournament play.
Eight teams have punched their tickets to Salem, Va., for the final steps towards the 2011 NCAA Division III Championship. Top-ranked Linfield opens against No. 8 SUNY Cortland. Fourth-ranked Luther opens against No. 14 Texas-Tyler, followed by No. 11 Messiah versus No. 16 DePauw and No. 9 Eastern Connecticut State faces unranked Christopher Newport.
In Division II play, 16 teams are still alive and will face off in eight best-of-three Super Regionals this weekend with five unranked teams remaining in the field. Top-ranked Alabama-Huntsville will host West Alabama in the South region, with No. 2 North Georgia hosting No. 6 Lenoir Rhyne in the Southeast region. The Atlantic region may feature one of the closest matches of the Super Regionals, with No. 11 and PSAC Tournament champion Indiana (Pa.) hosting PSAC Central Division rival and No. 10 Bloomsburg.
The Midwest region features a pair of unranked teams with Saginaw Valley hosting Grand Valley State. No. 7 Augustana (S.D.) hosts No. 14 Minnesota State-Mankato in the Central, No. 25 C.W. Post hosts Merrimack in the East, No. 5 Midwestern State hosts No. 12 West Texas A&M in the South Central and No. 16 UC San Diego hosts Cal State San Bernardino in the West.
Division I play opens in the Seattle regional on Thursday, while the remaining 15 regional sites start Friday. Arizona State holds the top spots in both polls as well as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Need to Know
• Coast Guard junior Hayley Feindel set the NCAA Division III career strikeout record on Thursday in a 7-4 first-round victory against Lesley. A third-inning strikeout became her 1,166th career K to set the new record, which had previously been held by Jennifer Martinez of St. Joseph (2006-08). The Bears were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday with an extra-innings loss to Rhode Island College. Feindel earned New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches Association Player of the Year honors and NFCA first-team All-Region notice. She also set a Division III single-season shutouts record with 26, and her 457 strikeouts ranks second on the NCAA’s single-season list. She finished the season with 1,206 career strikeouts.
• Michigan senior Jordan Taylor earned NFCA Division I National Player of the Week honors as she led the Wolverines to a sweep of Michigan State and the 2011 Big Ten Championship. Taylor started the week with a one-hit, 13-K performance on Friday in Ann Arbor. In Saturday’s regular season finale at Michigan State, Taylor tossed her eighth career no-hitter with six strikeouts. She was also named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.
• George Wares of Central College (Iowa) recorded his NCAA Division III record 907th career victory, passing the late Donna Newberry who had a 906-419-1 record in 36 years (1975-2010). Wares 907th career win came against Wisconsin-Whitewater in a 5-2 comeback victory. The Dutch added two more wins before being eliminated on Monday, leaving Wares with 909 career wins at the conclusion of his season.
• Tennessee freshman Ellen Renfroe earned ASA/USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week honors after posting victories against then-No. 20 Kentucky (4-1), then-No. 20 Auburn (2-1) and then-No. 9 Georgia (6-5, 8 inn) at the SEC Tournament en route to All-Tournament honors and the SEC Tournament Championship. Renfroe went 3-0 in the circle with a 0.76 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18.1 IP. In the championship game against Georgia, Renfroe entered in relief with the Lady Vols trailing 4-0 in the first inning. She held Georgia to one run on five hits with five strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work as Tennessee rallied for the 6-5 (8 inn.) walk-off win.
• Southeastern Conference individual season-ending awards went to Florida’s Kelsey Bruder (Player of the Year), Alabama’s Kelsi Dunne (Pitcher of the Year), Florida’s Tim Walton and LSU’s Yvette Girouard were named co-coaches of the Year, Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe was named Freshman of the Year and Kentucky’s Meagan Aull earned Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors.
• IUP’s Erin Holloway tossed two shutouts in three games, capping her weekend with a one-hit 5-0 win against Kutztown to advance to Super Regionals.
• Louisiana-Lafayette won an 11th Sun Belt Conference Championship in the 12-year history of the conference. The Ragin’ Cajuns were led by SBC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Christi Orgeron with 13 RBI for a new tournament record. Louisiana-Lafayette heads to Austin, Texas, for Regional play.
• This will be a third consecutive appearance in Super Regionals for North Georgia, the nation’s second-ranked Division II team.
• Mountain West individual year-end awards went to UNLV’s Ashli Holland (Player of the Year), BYU’s Paige Affleck (Pitcher of the Year), San Diego State’s Hayley Miles (Freshman of the Year) and BYU’s Gordon Eakin as Coach of the Year.
• Augustana (S.D.) took the long road to Super Regionals as the Augies dropped their regional opener 5-0 to Regis (Colo.) before posting two wins on Saturday and a pair of wins against Minnesota Duluth, 3-1 and 1-0, on Sunday to advance.
• Grand Valley State used a nine-run first inning in the Midwest Regional I Championship game on Monday with a 13-1 (5 inn) win against Lewis.
• Alabama-Huntsville posted three run-rule wins to sweep through its regional.