The 2017 Division II Softball Championship Tournament begins on Thursday, and teams will compete in Salem, Virginia. to see who will be crowned as the national champion. 

Bracket

THREE TEAMS TO WATCH

Angelo State

Record: 57-5

How they arrived: The Rambelles went 3-0 in the South Central Regional and then beat Texas Woman’s University twice in the Super Regional, outscoring the Pioneers 11-2 in the two wins.

Coach: Travis Scott

Key players: Freshman outfielder Courtney Barnhill is hitting .381 with 14 home runs, 11 doubles with 53 RBI. Senior pitcher Kenedy Urbany is 21-1 with a 1.17 ERA.

Notes: This marks the fifth time in the program’s history that the Rambelles have reached the Division II Softball Championship. The last time was 2010. Angelo State beat Armstrong 4-1 when the two teams met Feb. 4 in Melbourne, Fla. The Rambelles have won 22 of their last 23 games. Their strong finish in the regular season helped the Rambelles earn the No. 1 seed.

Humboldt State

Record: 43-13

How they arrived: The Lumberjacks went 3-0 in the West Regional and beat Dixie State twice in the Super Regional, winning 3-2 and 8-6.

Coach: Shelli Sarchett

Key players: Senior second baseman Tiffany Hollingsworth is hitting .343 with eight home runs and a team-leading 49 RBI. Senior pitcher Madison Williams is 24-9 with a 1.97 ERA. She has 260 strikeouts in 206.1 innings.

Notes: The Lumberjacks are returning to the Division II Softball Championship after finishing runner-up last season. Humboldt State was one victory away from winning a national title. Humboldt State has won its last eight games after a stretch in which the Lumberjacks won three of eight games. Humboldt State is the underdog. The Lumberjacks are the eighth seed and open against No. 1 seed Angelo State.

Armstrong State

Record: 36-12

How they arrived: The Pirates won the Southeast Regional and then beat North Georgia 6-2 in nine innings and 5-2.

Coach: Kim Dean

Key players: Sophomore catcher Logan Harrell is hitting .354 with 13 home runs and 11 doubles. She has knocked in a team-leading 44 runs. Senior pitcher Jane Trzaska is 17-7 with a 1.29 ERA. She has 109 strikeouts in 157 innings.

Notes: The Pirates know how to reach the Division II Softball Championship. This is their fourth appearance in the last five years. In 2013, Armstrong State reached the semifinals. Last year, Armstrong State also made the semifinals, going 3-2 in the national tournament. Both losses came to Humboldt State. But the Pirates also beat Humboldt State.

AROUND THE HORN

Pitcher: Angelo State pitcher Brandy Marlett was selected D2CCA South Central All-region team. She is 28-4 with two saves and a 1.25 ERA.

Pitcher: Minnesota State-Mankato senior pitcher Coley Ries is a top three finalist for Schutt Sports/NFCA Player of the Year. Ries is the school’s all-time leader in wins with 114. This season she is 36-3 with a 1.02 ERA and 426 strikeouts in 259.2 innings.  

Catcher: Southern Indiana senior Haley Hodges. Hodges is the second player in the program’s history to have back-to-back seasons of 10 or more home runs and the first player to have two seasons of 50 or more RBI.

First base: Southern Indiana junior Marleah Fossett. Fossett is hitting over .400 with 14 doubles and five home runs. Fossett knows how to get on base in more ways than one. She set a school record by getting on base 20 times on hit by pitches.

Second base: Humboldt State senior second baseman Tiffany Hollingsworth is hitting .343 with eight home runs and a team-leading 49 RBI. She has only struck out eight times in 181 at bats. 

Shortstop: Molloy junior Brianna Dalton. She made second-team All-East Coast Conference. She is hitting .273. She has committed only six errors.

Third base: Armstrong State junior third baseman Katie Collins leads the Pirates in hitting with a .368 batting average. She has socked 13 home runs. 

Outfield: West Virginia Wesleyan senior Tori Pogue was Mountain East player of the year. She also made National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region team. Pogue is hitting .428 with 28 stolen bases in 31 attempts.

Outfield: Angelo State freshman outfielder Courtney Barnhill is the type of newcomer that helps a team get to the next level. She is hitting .381 with 14 home runs, 11 doubles with 53 RBI.

Outfield: Minnesota State-Mankato sophomore McKenzie Paap leads off and sets the table for the Mavericks. She is hitting .424 with 16 doubles and 40 stolen bases in 44 attempts.

Designated player: Angelo State senior Kenedy Urbany has excelled on the mound and in the batter’s box. Urbany, a first-team D2CCA first-team South Central All-Region selection, is 21-1 with a 1.17 ERA. She is also hitting .325 with 14 home runs.