Pitching, Defense Rule Second Day of NCAA Division III Softball Championship

Freshman Jessica Rhoads of Messiah College (left) and Sonja Schwenker of Coe College each tossed shutouts as each team moved to 2-0 in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship

Montclair, NJ (5/16/09) – Runs were hard to come by as pitching ruled the second day of the 2009 NCAA Division III Softball Championship at the Montclair State University Softball Stadium on Saturday. Coe College and Messiah College were the benefactors of the many zeroes on the board as each improved to 2-0 in the tournament.  Meanwhile, Salisbury University and the University of Texas-Tyler managed to stay alive as each won their respective elimination contests.

For the second straight day, Coe posted a 1-0 victory as senior lefthander Sonja Schwenker tossed a three-hit shutout striking out five as the Kohawks handed Tufts University just its second loss this season in 45 games. Katherine King had the lone RBI with a smash single in the third inning.

Freshman right Jessica Rhoads was brilliant and did it both with her arm and bat as Messiah knocked off Gustavus Adolphus, 2-0. The Falcons won their 21st straight contest as Rhoads gave up just two hits and struck out 12. She also provided the scoring in the game with a two-run single in the first.

Coe and Messiah will now meet in the all-important Game 11 of the tournament at 5:00 pm on Sunday with the winner advancing to the championship round.

The first two games of the day provided plenty of late-inning drama.

UT Tyler belted three home runs, including a leadoff shot by Megan Richardson, as the Patriots led 4-1 heading into the final inning against Ohio Northern. But the Polar Bears scratched out a run in the bottom of the seventh and had the bases loaded with two out.  Danielle Gobeaux then laced a ball that appeared headed through the left side for what would have been a game-tying , two-run single. But the ball clipped first base runner Tin Magnola ending the game and ONU’s season, 4-2.

Salisbury got a pair of great defensive plays from rightfielder Casey Zaino in the last of the seventh to preserve a 2-1 win against Cortland. The Red Dragons put the tying run on with a leadoff double in the seventh but Zaino came up with two outstanding efforts. She first threw out pinch runner Lexi Demmi at the plate after backing up on a throwing error down the right field line and then made a diving catch in right center off the bat off senior rightfielder Betthany Williamson to end the game.

Salisbury battles Gustavus Adolphus in the first game of the day at Noon followed by Tufts and UT Tyler, who will square off at 2:30 pm. The winners of those contests will play in the final game of the day scheduled for 7:30 pm.