First-Timers Shine on First Day of NCAA Division III Softball Championships

Baseball legend Yogi Berra and wife Carmen threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2009 NCAA Division III Softball Championship. Gustavus Adolphus batterry Dani Cattrysse (left) and Betsie Collins (right) helped the Gusties to a 5-1 victory

Montclair, NJ (5/15/09) – Gustavus Adolphus and Tufts University showed that veteran championship experience is not a requirement while freshmen hurlers Jessica Rhoads of Messiah and Ashlee Simon of Coe proved that the national championship tournament stage is not limited to the upperclassmen.

Gustavus Adolphus College, the seventh seed out of the Indianola first-round site continued its amazing post-season run as the Gusties rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 5-1 win over University of Texas at Tyler in the opening game. Kirsten Prunty blasted a two-run home run to cap the inning as the Gusties won their fifth straight NCAA contest and improve to 40-7 on the year.Whitney Wyly drove in the lone run for the Patriots (38-9).

In the second game, Jacklyn Merkel belted a two-run home in the near identical spot at Prunty as Messiah College slipped past Ohio Northern, 3-1. Freshman righthander Jessica Rhoads struck out nine and scatter six hits as she improved to 25-1.

Tufts University continued its record-setting season as the Jumbos are now 43-1 following a 3-1 win over Cortland. Righthander Izzie Santone scattered seven hits and struck out two.

Simon allowed just two hits - one in the first inning and one in the last as she retired 21 batters in between as Coe slipped past Salisbury University, 1-0. The shutout was Simon's second of the year.

The four games set up Saturday's schedule with University of Texas at Tyler taking on Ohio Northern in the first elimination game of the tournament at 11:00 am. Cortland and Salisbury will meet in the second elimination game at 1:30 pm. Messiah takes on Gustavus Adolphus at 4:00 pm with Tufts and Coe closing out the second day of competition at 6:30 pm.