Montclair, NJ (5/9/09) – One more win and a trip to the Garden State. That’s what will be on the line as the field of eight teams for the NCAA Division III Softball Championship could be fully decided on Sunday.
For seven of those squads, they will have two chances for that one victory which would punch their ticket to the Montclair State University Softball Stadium for next week’s final.
Cortland (42-6) is in the driver’s seat in the Ithaca, New York bracket and could be headed back to the finals for a second straight season if the Red Dragons can get by Buffalo State on Sunday. Cortland, which would be the only holdover from the 2008 field to advance back, defeated Rochester to move to 3-0 in the tournament. However, Buffalo State defeated Cortland twice in the SUNYAC Tournament a week ago, including a 3-2 victory in the championship game.
Top-seeded Tufts is also in that same position as the Jumbos are now 41-1 on the year following a 9-2 victory over No. 3 seed Coast Guard on Saturday. Tufts will await the winner of the Springfield College / Coast Guard matchup to decide the Beverly, Massachusetts first-round champion. Should Tufts lose, a deciding game from the eight-team bracket would be played on Monday.
In Greencastle, Illinois, No. 1 seed Ohio Northern topped DePauw, 5-3 in the pivotal game of the day on Saturday. Kim Blewett's first-inning grand slam provided the margin that top-seed and fourth-ranked Ohio Northern needed for the win. The Polar Bears will face DePauw again and need to win just once to advance to New Jersey.
Seventh-seeded Gustavus Adolphus is in control in the Indianola, Iowa first-round site. Rachel Click blasted a pair of home runs and drove in four as the Gusties downed eighth-seeded Webster, 14-6 to improve to 3-0 in that bracket. Gustavus will take on the Webster/Washington-St. Louis winner in the second game on Sunday and if needed, a deciding contest will take place on Monday.
In Marshall, Texas, the University of Texas-Tyler broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the eighth on an Ashley Klores RBI single that propelled the Patriots to a 1-0 win over host East Texas Baptist in a matchup of 2-0 teams. Texas-Tyler will face No. 1 seed Linfield College on Sunday with the latter needing two victories to spoil the Patriots’ chance at a first-ever trip to the national championship tournament.
A new national champion will be crowned this year as Wisconsin-Eau Claire was eliminated from the Bloomington, Illinois bracket by rival Wisconsin-Whitewater, 7-2. Meanwhile host Illinois Wesleyan needs just one more win to earn its first trip to the finals since 2003. They will meet Coe on Sunday.
Messiah College, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade, is just one victory away from its first trip to the finals. The top seed in the Mahwah, New Jersey bracket, the Falcons defeated William Paterson, 4-2 to up its record to 3-0. William Paterson and Rowan will renew their rivalry one more time this season to see who will get to face Messiah.Should either of the two NJAC school upend Messiah, a winner-take-all game would be on Monday.
At Salisbury, Maryland, Bridgewater ( Va.) College picked up a pair of wins on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the bracket on Sunday. The Eagles eliminated top seed Lynchburg (4-2) n the first game of the day and then came back to hand Emory its first loss of the tournament, 2-1 in 11 innings. Bridgewater will await the winner of the Salisbury / Emory contest with the winner making plans for next weekend in New Jersey.