TYLER, Texas -- The NCAA Division III Softball Committee has
announced the 61 teams that will compete in the 2012 Division III Softball
Championship and seven of those teams have been assigned to the Tyler, Texas
The action begins on Friday at 11 a.m. at the UT Tyler Ballpark. Here’s a quick rundown of the teams selected
for the Tyler Regional.
TEXAS-TYLER PATRIOTS / Tyler, Texas (36-7) – The No. 1 seed Patriots,
coached by Mike Reed, look to defend their 2011 Regional Title, after going
36-7 in regular season play, winning the American Southwest Conference Eastern Division
and the ASC Championship to earn the league’s automatic qualifier. It was
the first time in school history that UT Tyler won both the Division and Conference
crown. Senior Katelyn Thomason, in her last season at UT Tyler, was named
the ASC East Division Player of the Year. Thomason batted .437 with three
homeruns, 43 RBIs and went 13-3 in the circle with a 1.85 ERA to lead the
Patriots. Junior Ashley Endsley hit 10 homeruns in her first season with
the Patriots, leading the conference in homeruns. Junior Heather Abshire also
played a key part for the Patriots this season, leading the team in the circle,
going 19-3 with a 1.57 ERA, while batting .390 with one homerun and 30
RBI. UT Tyler has faced two of the other six teams in this regional,
going 5-1 against Louisiana College this season while splitting a home-series
with Pacific Lutheran. The Patriots feature one of the country's best
offenses, scoring 6.93 runs per game, good for 22nd in the country.
PACIFIC LUTHERAN LUTES / Tacoma, Wash. (37-11) - The No. 2 seeded
Lutes return to East Texas for the second time this season, after going 6-2 on
a week-long trip in March. The nation's seventh-ranked team, Pacific
Lutheran has belted 31 homeruns this season, while also boasting the 12th best
fielding team in the nation. The Lutes are led offensively by junior
Kaaren Hatlen, who leads the team with nine homeruns, 51 RBIs and a .449
batting average. In the circle, Stacey Hagensen leads the way with a 20-5
record, 1.11 ERA and 100 strikeouts. Hatlen also has time in the circle
for the Lutes, going 13-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Pacific Lutheran enters the
regional with momentum on their side, beating the defending national champion
Linfield, 3-0, in the Northwest
Conference championship game last weekend. PLU is coached by Erin Van Nostrand.
REDLANDS BULLDOGS / Redlands, Cal. (31-11) - The No. 3 seeded
Bulldogs are the first at-large team into the Tyler, Texas Regional.
Redlands finished as runners-up in the Southern California Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference tournament, falling to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 2-0, in the
final. Coach Laurie Nevarez’s Bulldogs feature a talented offensive,
ranking 20th in the nation in team batting average (.350) and 17th in the
country with 34 homeruns. Amanda Lievanos is an offensive juggernaut,
slugging 13 homeruns on the season with a .484 batting average and 57 RBIs.
Kayla Uphold and Amanda Clark also stand out at the plate, hitting .430 and
.425, respectively. Uphold also leads the way in the circle for the
Bulldogs, going 19-4 with 12 complete games and a 2.55 ERA. Redlands has
now appeared in eight-straight NCAA tournaments since 2005.
LOUISIANA COLLEGE WILDCATS / Pineville, La. (28-13) - The American
Southwest Conference runners-up also make their eighth-consecutive
appearance in the NCAA postseason. The Wildcats finished as runners-up in
the 2011 Tyler Regional, falling 8-7 to UT Tyler with a spot at the World
Series on the line. This season LC was under the direction of first year
head coach Mark Rosier. The Wildcats were paced on the field by Daniele
Wilson who led the team in several offensive categories, including homeruns
(7), RBI (37), doubles (13) and total bases (81). In the circle, the
Wildcats have four pitchers who have pitched at least 35 innings on the
season. Leslie Eastham boasts the best record for the team, going 8-4
with a 2.78 ERA. Tori Davis, Rudi Aycock and Jordan Waldroup should all
see action in the circle during the regional. Louisiana College loves to
run the bases, racking up 88 stolen bases on the season.
CLAREMONT-MUDD-SCRIPPS ATHENAS / Claremont, Cal. (28-13) - The
fifth-seeded Athenas make their fourth appearance into the NCAA Championships.
CMS ranks 28th in the nation in team earned run average, posting a 2.08 ERA for
the season. Hayley Shultz paced the team in the circle this season, going
16-10 with 17 complete games, and a 1.70 ERA. Teammate Rebecca Gularte
also chipped in, going 12-3 in the circle. The Athenas had no players bat
above .400 or hit more than seven homeruns, but did have production up and down
the lineup. Emily Lopez led the team with a .384 batting average and
seven homeruns, while Harmony Palmer batted .362 with three triples. The
Athenas are led by Betsy Hipple.
BIRMINGHAM SOUTHERN PANTHERS / Birmingham, Ala. (34-9) - The Southern
Collegiate Athletic Conference Champion Panthers, coached by Kimball Cassady, enter
the Tyler Regional on a high note, clinching their first-ever NCAA postseason
berth in dramatic fashion by defeating Trinity (TX) twice in one day, including
a dramatic walk-off homerun for the SCAC championship. BSC will be the six seed
in Tyler, led by pitcher Bethany Fronk who posted a 15-3 season record, with a
1.10 ERA and 86 strikeouts. Ronni Ferris will also see time in the circle
after going 13-5 with a 2.12 ERA. At the plate, Ashley Bice leads the
team with a .412 batting average, six homeruns and 61 hits.
HUNTINGDON COLLEGE HAWKS / Montgomery, Ala. (28-13) - The seventh-seeded Hawks are also
making their first appearance in the NCAA postseason. Huntingdon earned a
berth by winning the Great South Atlantic Conference tournament, and look to
notch their first-ever win in the NCAA tourney. All-conference performer
Aleah Payne leads the way for the Hawks, batting a stellar .458, with six
homeruns and 44 RBI. Payne also nearly doubled the next best hitter on
the team, blasting 60 hits on the season. Bree Giordana will see the bulk
of the action in Tyler, after posting a 16-7 season record, with a 2.03 ERA in
138 innings of work. Melissa McClure will also see time in the circle
after chipping in with 10 wins in 101 innings of work. Gynger Williams is
the head coach at Huntingdon.