No. 1 Marlins to Open OKC Play with No. 4 Texas-Tyler - College World Series Preview

Photo by: Jerry Sprouse - jerrysprouse.photoreflect.com
Photo by: Jerry Sprouse - jerrysprouse.photoreflect.com

No. 1 Marlins to Open OKC Play with No. 4 Texas-Tyler – College World Series Preview

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan softball team will open up play in the NCAA Division III College World Series with defending national champion, and No. 4-ranked, Texas-Tyler.

Live stat and video links can be found below. Also, fans that are interested in watching the National Championship Banquet can do so at the link provided as well. The banquet will be Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST.

Tournament Website
Interactive Bracket
Banquet Feed (Facebook Live)

Virginia Wesleyan vs. Texas-Tyler – Thursday, 2:30 p.m. EST

The Marlins (48-2) have not allowed a run in the NCAA tournament, outscoring opponents 21-0 while winning all five contests. That streak will be tested on Thursday as Virginia Wesleyan faces the top hitting team in the nation. Texas-Tyler (44-4) paces all of Division III in batting average (.389) and slugging percentage (.577).

The Patriots have scored at least five runs in each NCAA tournament game this year, outscoring opponents 38-14 while going 5-0.

Texas-Tyler is led offensively by Kaylee Prather (.503, 63 R, 28 RBI, 38 SB), who has connected for 18 extra base hits this year while anchoring the top of the lineup. Cheyenee Thompson (.426, 43 R, 8 HR, 52 RBI) is a key power threat for the Patriots. KK Stevens (.388, 14 HR, 52 RBI) is another important bat the Marlins will need to silence to claim victory.

The Patriots are likely to throw Alaina Kissinger (24-2, 1.56 ERA) against the Marlins, but Whitney Romero (14-1, 1.26 ERA) is more than serviceable out of the bullpen if necessary.

The Marlins will look to ace Hanna Hull (29-2, 0.44 ERA) to shut down the potent Patriot offense as the Marlins possess the best ERA in Division III (0.77). She was named ODAC Pitcher and Rookie of the Year, and continued that success in the postseason by gaining Most Outstanding Player at the Ashland Regional and Most Outstanding Pitcher at the Virginia Beach Super Regional. She sits second in the country in ERA and strikeouts (326).

The Texas-Tyler pitchers will also have a challenge, facing a Marlin squad that is batting .333 on the year and several hitters who have been hot of late. Cassetty Howerin (.441, 45 R, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 25 SB) is the lead power threat for the Marlins, who becomes even more dangerous if Kiersten Richardson (.390, 62 R, 60 SB) can find a way on base from the leadoff spot.

Madison Glaubke (.308, 25 R, 22 RBI) and Jessica Lindsay (.317, 4 HR, 19 RBI) had several big at bats to win the Virginia Beach Super Regional and could be key contributors in a victory in Oklahoma City.

Trine vs. Amherst – Thursday, 12 p.m. EST

No. 22 Trine (37-8) will face Amherst (33-10) in the first game of the 2017 College World Series. This is the second appearance in the College World Series for Trine as the Thunder went 5-0 while sweeping the Whitewater Regional and Angola Super Regional to secure a spot in the championship.

Amherst entered the tournament with a record of 28-10 before catching fire in the NCAA Regional. The Mammoths have not lost yet while capturing the Springfield Regional and Amherst Super Regional crowns.

Trine has led the nation in home runs for most of the season, connecting for 59 on the year. Kaylee Fox (.358, 16 HR, 48 RBI) leads the team in home runs while Carly Bachna and Makenna Hartline have connected for 12 and 11 respectively.

Amherst has outscored its opponents 25-5 in the postseason. Pitcher Gina Pagan (22-4, 1.30 ERA) has been a big reason for that success, earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the regional before capturing Most Outstanding Pitcher in the supers.

Illinois Wesleyan vs. St. Catherine – Thursday, 5 p.m. EST

Illinois Wesleyan (36-13) will face No. 25 St. Catherine (38-12) in the first evening game of day one. This is the second-straight year, and third time overall that IWU has reached the College World Series. This is the first time St. Catherine has made it to the National Championship, and just the second time the squad has ever made the NCAA Tournament.

Illinois Wesleyan had to rally back in the Super Regional after dropping the first game to Transylvania to secure a spot in Oklahoma City. St. Catherine faced a similar road, but in the regional round, dropping the opener to the University of Chicago before winning six-straight games to set up Thursday's matchup.

Jillian Runyon (.395, 58 R, 56 SB) sets the table for the Illinois Wesleyan offense and will be instrumental in a victory. Sam Berghoff (.366, 8 HR, 38 RBI) is the lead power threat. Brea Walker (17-4, 2.78 ERA) is likely to draw the start for an IWU squad that relies heavily on its offense.

St. Catherine is paced offensively by Jenna George, who leads the Wildcats in average (.460), home runs (11), and RBI (54). Kylie Macziewski (.400, 45 R, 9 HR, 39 RBI) is also an obstacle for the IWU staff. Krista Flugstad (28-5, 1.26 ERA) is one of the top pitchers in the nation, ranking second in DIII in victories only behind Virginia Wesleyan's Hull.

St. John Fisher vs. Williams – Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST

No. 8 St. John Fisher (41-6) will cap off day one with an evening contest with No. 19 Williams (36-11). St. John Fisher will be playing in the College World Series for the second-straight year after going 5-0 in postseason play, including an eight-inning victory over Cortland to clinch a berth in OKC. Williams is appearing in the College World Series for the third time in program history after breaking a school record for wins this year.

St. John Fisher is led by one of the best pitchers in the nation, Lindsay Thayer (28-5, 0.42 ERA). Thayer is second in the nation in wins, first in ERA, and first in strikeouts with 415 in just 202.1 innings. Katie Mazierski, Emma Savas, and Ashley Prince help her cause offensively as all bat over .400 for the season.

Williams will look to Rebecca Duncan (16-4, 1.55 ERA) to try to match Thayer in the circle. The Ephs bat .310 as a team, but rarely strike out which is key if Williams hopes to top Thayer. Lexi Curt (.380, 10 HR, 36 RBI) and Jessica Kim (.375, 9 HR, 30 RBI) lead the offense.