Softball Opens NCAA Tournament Play Against Central On Friday

Posted on May 7th, 2015 by

The Gustavus softball team will travel to Pella, Iowa for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus softball team heads into the 2015 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament looking to feed on the momentum of last weekend’s MIAC Playoff run. Following back-to-back 6-0 wins over Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas, respectively, in their first two contests, the Gusties captured the MIAC’s postseason crown for the first time in school history with a 4-3 win over St. Thomas in the championship on Sunday, May 3.

At 33-14 overall, Gustavus is making its fourth all-time appearance – first since the 2009 season – in the NCAA Tournament where the team boasts an all-time tournament record of 9-6. Under the direction of Head Coach Jeff Annis, the Gusties made the national field in 2007 and again in 2009. In its last trip to the big dance in 2009, Gustavus made what was a magical run to the Division III College World Series and after going 3-2 at the site of the NCAA Championship Finals, brought back a third place trophy.

The Gusties’ 2015 NCAA Tournament journey begins in Pella, Iowa where Central College (30-9) will serve as regional host. Joining the Gusties and the Dutch will be Aurora University (35-6) and Fontbonne University (30-9). The double-elimination regional will take place May 8-10 at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field. Monday, May 11 has been slotted as a potential makeup day in case of inclement weather. The weekend will begin on Friday with Aurora taking on Fontbonne at 1:00 p.m. and Gustavus battling Central later at 3:30 p.m. The regional champ will advance to a May 15-16 super regional against the winner of the four-team regional set for this weekend in Decorah, Iowa. Making up the Decorah region is Luther College, University of St. Thomas, Linfield College, and the College of St. Scholastica.

Paige Breneman enters the NCAA Tournament riding a five-game hitting-streak with a team-best batting average of .373.

Paige Breneman enters the NCAA Tournament riding a five-game hitting-streak with a team-best batting average of .373.

As has been the case during the team’s late-season surge, Gustavus’s success stems from the rubber. The two-headed attack of Hannah Heacox (So., Stillwater, Minn.) and Sarah Rozell (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.) proved too much for MIAC hitters last weekend as the pair led the Gusties to three straight wins. Rozell was named the MIAC Playoffs Tournament MVP after not allowing a single run and giving up just three hits in her two starts and 15.2 innings. She went 2-0 with wins coming against St. Thomas in both the semifinals and championship. Heacox went 12.1 innings in her two MIAC Playoff starts, allowing three runs (two earned) on 11 hits.

Overall this season, Heacox in 13-4 with a 1.75 ERA and an opponent batting average of .212. She allowed just two earned runs over her last four starts (21.2 IP) and ranks seventh in the country in strikeouts per game (9.6). Rozell is 13-6 and has dropped her ERA to 2.49, which is down from her 5.09 ERA at the beginning of April. The senior hasn’t suffered a loss in seven appearances and has allowed only two earned runs over her last 33.2 innings (five starts).

Paige Breneman (Sr., Sherburn, Minn.) and Kailey Morgan (Sr., Mound, Minn.) head into the weekend leading Gustavus’s offense. After going 5-for-10 with four runs and five RBI in the MIAC Playoffs, Breneman raised her batting average to a team-best .373. Morgan is 4-for-8 with a run and fiveRBI thus far in the postseason. She ranks second the team in batting average (.366) and leading the way in slugging (.604) with a team-best 20 extra base hits (14 doubles, six home runs). Shelby Nosan (Sr., Baudette, Minn.) and Jena Willis (So., Glacier, Mont.) are also hitting above the .350 mark with Nosan at .353 with a team-high on-base percentage of .544, and Willis at .350 after going 4-for-8 with two runs and two RBI in the MIAC Playoffs.

Friday’s game will be the 13th meeting between Gustavus and Central on the softball diamond. The Dutch hold the advantage in the all-time series with a record of 9-3. The two clubs met earlier this year in a doubleheader on March 27 in Pella. Central went on to sweep the Gusties in that series thanks to 5-3 and 9-5 victories. In the their last meeting in the NCAA Tournament Regionals on May 7, 2009 in Indianola, Iowa, Gustavus scored six unanswered runs en route to an 11-4 victory. That game is the only NCAA Tournament meeting between the two programs.

Gustavus has some familiarity with Fontbonne, holding a record of 1-1 with a 3-2 win in their last matchup on March 10, 2013. A Gustavus versus Aurora pairing would be the first in the school history of both squads.

For results and game summaries of this weekend’s NCAA Tournament action, please stay tuned to Live video/stats will be provided for all of this weekend’s games by the Central Sports Information Department. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students. Fans can purchase an all-tournament pass for $15. Below is a complete schedule for the Pella regional.

NCAA Tournament Program


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