OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan University softball team has returned to Oklahoma City for the NCAA Division III Softball Championship, looking to repeat its outcome from 2017. The squad will begin its quest for the National Championship at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. EST) as it takes on Ithaca College at the Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
To follow the action use one of the following links:
HOW WE GOT HERE: After clinching the crown at the Regional round, the Marlins had to defend its home turf as it hosted Berry College for a best of three series in the Super Regional Round. In game one, Hanna Hull pitched a near perfect game, allowing just a single hit in a 4-0 win. Game two was a tad different with the teams exchanging blows every inning, halting in the bottom of the seventh inning due to rain. The game would resume the next morning, where a Kiersten Richardson RBI single during extra innings punched the squads second-straight ticket to the National Championships.
FORD IS FEELING IT: Junior Beth Ford has been having her best year in a Marlin uniform, giving a lot of life to the bottom of the order. Hitting ninth, the centerfielder went 4-for-6 in the two Super Regional games, including getting a hit that put her in position for Richardson to score in the clinching game. Ford was named the Super Regional's Most Outstanding Player after receiving First Team All-Conference honors as well.
50 IS THE NEW 40: With the win on Sunday, the Marlins notched their second-straight 50-win season (50-2). Last year, VWU set the NCAA Division III record for wins in a season with 54 and have the opportunity to break that this year. In Division III softball history, only four teams have ever hit the 50-victory milestone (VWU in 2017, Tufts and UT-Tyler in 2015 and Linfield in 2011).
HOPING HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF (KIND OF...): Last season, the Marlins were crowned National Champions, but the road wasn't all roses. The squad opened up the 2017 tournament with a loss to Texas Tyler and were forced to make it out of the 'loser's bracket". The team did just that as it won six-straight en route to winning the title.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: There are three teams returning to Oklahoma City for the NCAA Championships including Illinois Wesleyan, Texas Tyler and, of course, Virginia Wesleyan. Joining these three will be Ithaca College, Rowan University, Luther College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Case Western Reserve. Only three teams in the field have ever earned National Championship honors with Virginia Wesleyan winning in 2017, UT Tyler in 2016 and Ithaca winning in 2002.