Linfield
Location: McMinnville, Ore.
Nickname: Wildcats
Conference: Northwest Conference
Head Coach: Jackson Vaughan (10th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2010 (runner-up)
Previous Championships: 2007

Linfield has been the nation’s top-ranked team since the preseason NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll was announced in February. The Wildcats have been pounding home runs at a NCAA-record pace all season. Led by junior catcher Emilee Lepp with an NCAA single-season record 29 home runs, Linfield tops the NCAA team statistical rankings in batting average (.400), scoring (9.23 runs/game), winning percentage (.957/45-2), home runs per game (2.02) and slugging percentage (.699). The Wildcats swept through the Pella Regional with four run-rule victories.

SUNY-Cortland
Location: Cortland, N.Y.
Nickname: Red Dragons
Conference: State University of New York Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Julie Lenhart (16th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2009
Previous Championships: none
Winners of the Cortland Regional, SUNY-Cortland (40-3-1) advanced through the winners bracket at Regionals, defeating King’s (Pa.), Montclair State, Moravian and Piedmont to advance to Salem. In the Red Dragons Saturday win against Montclair State, junior first baseman Abby Martin tied an NCAA Division III tournament record with three doubles in the 4-3 win.  Champions of the State University of New York Athletic Conference for a second consecutive year, this will be the Red Dragons seventh appearance in the Finals. SUNY Cortland was ranked No. 8 in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll.

Luther
Location: Decorah, Iowa
Nickname: Norse
Conference: Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Renae Hartl (10th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2010
Previous Championships: none

Coming out of the Eau Claire Regional, Luther (41-4) won all four of its games, defeating St. Scholastica, UW-La Crosse and St. Thomas twice, 11-2 (5 inn) and 4-3. The Norse hold top-10 national rankings in four team categories: ERA (3rd/1.28), winning percentage (3rd/.911), fielding percentage (4th/.975) and doubles per game (9th/2.04). Luther was the top seed for the IIAC Tournament and captured a second consecutive tournament title to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Norse are the nation’s fourth-ranked team in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll.

Texas-Tyler
Location: Tyler, Texas
Nickname: Patriots
Conference: American Southwest Conference
Head Coach: Mike Reed (7th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2009
Previous Championships: none

The third-seeded Patriots had a bit of a rocky road through the Tyler Regional. The weekend opened with a 10-9, 15-inning victory against Redlands on a walk-off home run by Taylor Freudenberg. A 6-4 win against Louisiana College set up a rematch with Redlands, this time Texas-Tyler prevailed 10-2 in five innings before topping Louisiana College, 8-7, to advance to the NCAA Finals. The Patriots were an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament after falling to defending NCAA Champion East Texas Baptist in the American Southwest Conference Tournament Championship game. UT-Tyler, ranked 14th in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, was the second seed in the conference tournament. The Patriots are the nation’s third-best home run hitting team, posting an average of 1.06 round-trippers per game.

Messiah
Location: Grantham, Pa.
Nickname: Falcons
Conference: MAC Commonwealth Conference
Head Coach: Amy Weaver (14th year as HC)
Last Finals Appearance: 2009
Previous Championships: 2009

Champions of the Ithaca Regional, Messiah (39-5) won all four of its games last weekend to advance to the NCAA Finals for the first time since winning the 2009 NCAA Championship. Ranked 11th in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, the Falcons were an automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament by virtue of its Commonwealth Conference Tournament championship. Ranked second in the nation in ERA (1.23) and sixth in winning percentage (.886), Messiah is led by first-team Commonwealth All-Conference first teamers Jessica Rhoads (P/Jr) and Jaclyn Merkel (OF/Jr).

DePauw
Location: Greencastle, Ind.
Nickname: Tigers
Conference: Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Bonnie Skrenta (9th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2010
Previous Championships: none

DePauw (31-9-1) was forced to play the “if necessary” game at the Adrian Regional after a crazy first championship game was halted overnight due to rain and darkness and finished with the Tigers falling to Hiram 15-12 in nine innings. DePauw then regrouped and captured the NCAA Finals berth with a 7-0 victory on Monday afternoon. The SCAC Tournament Champions, DePauw earned a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament with the automatic bid. The nation’s top fielding team, the Tigers graduated the NCAA career leader in games played and games started after the 2010 season, but sophomore Emily Bichler has stepped into the circle and ranks second in the nation with 29 wins this season. Ranked 16th in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, the Tigers are making a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Finals.

Eastern Connecticut State
Location: Willimantic, Conn.
Nickname: Warriors
Conference: Little East
Head Coach: Diana Pepin (10th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2010
Previous Championships: 1990, 1986, 1985, 1982

Winners of the Providence Regional, Eastern Connecticut State (34-5) also had to negotiate an “if necessary” game on Monday morning in order to advance to the NCAA Finals. The Warriors dropped their first championship opportunity to host Rhode Island by a 3-1 margin before prevailing 4-1 on Monday. Ranked ninth in the final regular season NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, Eastern Connecticut State is a program with a long and storied tradition with four NCAA titles, including the first ever in 1982, to its credit. Junior P/1B Molly Rathbun leads the way for the Warriors both offensively and defensively. Rathbun holds a 0.72 ERA to rank fourth in the nation and leads her team with a .423 batting average this season.

Christopher Newport
Location: Newport News, Va.
Nickname: Captains
Conference: USA South
Head Coach: Keith Parr (8th year)
Last Finals Appearance: 2010
Previous Championships: none

The only unranked team to advance to the 2011 NCAA Finals, Christopher Newport (35-10) swept through the Salisbury regional with four wins that included a pair against host Salisbury. On Saturday, the Captains topped the hosts by a 7-3 margin and kept that offensive momentum going with a 19-3 (6 inn) victory against Salisbury on Sunday afternoon to advance to the Finals. An at-large selection to the tournament field, the Captains fell to Shenandoah in the USA South Tournament after capturing the regular season title. The Captains rank fifth in the nation in home runs per game, averaging one round-tripper per contest.