VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan University softball team will resume its quest to defend the National Title this weekend as the squad travels to Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. to compete in the NCAA Division III Softball Regional Round. The Marlins will begin their journey with a tilt against Gettysburg at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Before their match up, host CNU will take on Messiah College as the other two teams in the pod.
Fans unable to make the trip can still follow the action using the following links:
For those attending, tickets can be purchased at the gates with pricing as follows: $10 for adults and $7 for seniors, students and children.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Marlins, who notched their second-straight 40-win season (45-2), were a deadlock to get in the tournament as they were ranked No. 1 throughout the entire season. The squad left no doubt though as it was crowned the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Champions after taking down Emory & Henry in the finals. The road was not easy though as the Marlins dropped their opening game of the tournament to Guilford and had to fight their way out of the loser's bracket (six-straight elimination games) to earn the title.
#DEFENDTHECROWN: Last year was monumental for the softball program as the squad won its first ever National Championship, defeating St. John Fisher College in the finals. VWU set the Division III all-time mark for wins, finishing the season with 54. Since 1982, only three teams have ever been able to defend their crown, including Eastern Connecticut ('85-'86), St. Thomas ('04-'05) and Tufts ('13-'14-'15).
SENIOR STUDS: Virginia Wesleyan might have one of the most prolific senior classes ever to come through DIII softball. The class, which is made up of six players, has amassed an astounding record of 167-20 over the past four years and will look to add to that win column. Over that time, the team has won three ODAC Championships, made it to NCAA Regionals four times and of course hold a National Title to their name. Leading that class has been Cassetty Howerin who has not only broken VWU's record for walks, home runs, doubles and RBI this year but has also broken the ODAC RBI and walk record.
GLAUB"KEYS" TO SUCCESS: Madison Glaubke has no idea what a sophomore slump is. The Virginia Beach native has been a stalwart at the plate for the squad this season and it has not gone unnoticed. Topping the charts in nearly every batting statistic in conference play, Glaubke was named the ODAC Player of the Year. Hitting from the two-spot, Glaubke has clubbed 50 hits so far, 15 of which for extra bags.
HOLY HULL (OR HALL)!: Coming off maybe the best freshman pitching performance ever in Division III, Hanna Hull hasn't skipped a beat. The sophomore has fired off 269 strikeouts this year to lead country. She has also collected 30 wins over the course of 196.1 innings pitched which sits top-five in the nation. The reigning Division III Freshman/Pitcher of the Year has kept things going in 2018, collecting National Pitcher of the Week honors three times, ODAC Pitcher of the Week five times and was named the ODAC Pitcher of the Year. Hull has had some relief though and that has come by way of freshman teammate Carla Hall. Hall has been a consistent number two for Coach Brandon Elliot, going a perfect 10-0 this year. The first-year hurler is just getting hot too, as she tossed a no hitter in the ODAC Championship game to help earn the Marlins a three-peat.
FRESHMAN PHENOMS: Hall is joined by a cast of freshman who have helped maintain the program's winning ways. Katelyn Biando has not only been a staple at second but has also been a resourceful batter as she has knocked 34 hits from the clean-up spot. Julia Sinnett has been terrific at the hot corner, manning third base for the majority of the year. The other members of freshman class have filed in nicely as well, providing key utility pieces to the club.
HOW CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT GOT HERE: The Captains have been among the nation's top squads this season, currently ranking No. 11 in the latest NFCA poll. CNU has pioste a record of 35-8 this season and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Round as it won the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament. Leading the Captains are pitcher Patty Maye Ohanion (CAC Freshman/Pitcher of the Year) and Rachel Payne (CAC Player of the Year). The Marlins and Captains squared off earlier this season in Newport News with the Marlins coming out victorious in both games of the doubleheader.
HOW GETTYSBURG GOT HERE: This is the Bullets first trip back to the NCAA Tournement since 2007. The squad won its conference (Centennial Conference) tournament, winning three-straight elimination games. Leading the Bullets this season is Aileen Reilly (CC Pitcher of the Year) and Shelby Baker (CC Rookie of the Year). Gettysburg finished the year with a record of 24-14, but went 0-6 against common opponents with the Marlins.
HOW MESSIAH GOT HERE: The Falcons were the second seed in their conference (Middle Athletic Conference) tournament this season and looked as though they needed the win to gain a bid to the NCAAs. Messiah made no mistakes, winning all three necessary games to receive an automatic bid. Junior Erin Cressman is one of their top players this season, joining Marlins Cassetty Howerin and Hanna Hull as 25 players on the NFCA Player of the Year watch list. The Falcons finished the year with a record of 27-16 and have gone 0-3 against common opponents with the Marlins.