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Softball | General | 5/23/2022

D-II Softball Championship Starts in Denver

Jerry Miller     
Photo: University of Texas - Tyler Softball
Framed by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, Regency Athletic Complex will serve as the host sight for the 2022 NCAA Division-II National Championships. The D-II WCWS gets underway this Thursday, May 26, when the nation’s No. 1 team, and the tournament’s No. 1 seed, the University of Texas – Tyler (47-7), takes on 8th seeded Cal State – Dominguez Hills (41-21).
 
UT-Tyler Head Coach Mike Reed saw his Patriots advance to the WCWS with a hard fought series win over the No. 2 ranked Javelinas of Texas A&M-Kingsville. After taking the first game from a talented TAMU-K program by a score of 5-1, Tyler saw the Javelinas tie the series at one apiece with a thrilling 6-5 win in game two. The third and deciding contest was a back-and-forth affair that the Patriots finally put away with a four-spot in the 6th.  UT-Tyler advanced with a well-earned 6-4 win.
 
Cal State – Dominguez Hills showed true grit and determination in securing their trip to Denver. The Toros dropped their first Super Regional game to in-state rival, Cal State – San Marcos by a score of 3-2. Veteran coach Jim Maier’s savvy group got their act together and dominated game two by a score of 10-2, forcing the decider. The Toros rode the momentum from their impressive game two win and held off a stubborn CSUSM club, 3-1, in game three to punch their ticket to Colorado.
 
Considering where these two teams have been ranked all spring, the seeding for the WCWS takes a bit of a surprising turn with the No. 4-No. 5 matchup. The No. 10 ranked, and 4th-seeded Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (49-11) will go up against the country’s No. 4 ranked, yet 5th-seeded Rogers State (OK) Hillcats (53-10) in the tournament’s second game scheduled for a 2:30 pm start on Thursday.
 
Sue Kunkle has her SIU club back in the Championship series again this year, advancing to Denver via a two-game sweep of a tough Grand Valley State club in Super Regionals, 2-1 and 3-2. Rogers State, playing as if they are on a mission, toppled Central Oklahoma in dominating fashion, 3-1 and 12-1.
 
Andrea Vaughan’s Hillcats, who have been at the top of their game all spring, appear to be peaking at the right time and will obviously take a bit of a chip into the WCWS over their apparent seeding slight. They, arguably, earned a higher seed than No. 5. This time of year though, teams have to play the toughest and beat the best and Rogers appears to be ready for that challenge.
 
The evening session starts at 5:00 pm with an intriguing matchup. Although ranked 22nd in the country in the coaches’ poll, Adelphi University from Garden City, N.Y., is the tourney’s No. 2 seeded club. Coach Carla Campgna’s Panthers dropped their first Super Regional contest, 1-0, to a game Wilmington program, but came storming back to take the series with impressive 6-0 and 7-1 wins.
 
No. 18 ranked and 7th seeded North Georgia also had to take the deciding “if-game” contest to advance. The Nighthawks from Dahlonega, Ga. won their first Super Regional game over Lincoln Memorial, rather handily, 9-1. Game two saw LMU take a 3-1 victory over UNG, forcing the final contest. Coach Mike Davenport’s club secured their berth to the National Championship and a trip to the Rocky Mountains with a 4-1 emotionally charged victory over a tough and highly-competitive LMU squad.
 
Opening Day of the 2022 NCAA Division-II WCWS will conclude with No. 3 ranked Auburn University-Montgomery (48-11), the tournament’s three seed, taking on the six seed, Seton Hill (41-10) from Pennsylvania in the tourney’s last contest of the evening. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
 
Head Coach Eric Newell’s AU-M Warhawks dropped their opening Super Regional contest 5-1 to No. 12 Valdosta State. The Hawks then had to grind out a 3-2 win in the second game to force a third and deciding, winner-take-all matchup against a determined Blazer squad from VSU. Auburn-Montgomery, clinging to a 2-0 lead in the 7th, held off a furious Valdosta rally to take a well-earned 2-1 win and claim the Super Regional title.
 
Seton Hill (41-10) had to go on the road for their Super Regional series against No. 20 Kutztown. Coach Jessica Strong’s Griffins were up to the task, sweeping the home-standing KSU Bears, 7-0 and 9-5 to earn, with relative ease, their flight to Denver.
 
The field is set for the 2022 Division-II WCWS. The seeding debate, which is undoubtedly taking place at this very moment, is just, in reality, a conversation that has no right or wrong. To win the championship, you have to beat the best teams in the country.
 
As the squads and their faithful fans travel to Denver this week, the coaching staffs and players have a common focus. Victory comes down to preparation and execution. The days of fall ball and winter workouts are but vague memories. The work put in by all of these teams has paid off. They’re all on the way to the National Championship tourney. There are only eight talented and deserving programs remaining in the field that started with 64 two weeks ago. Eight hopeful and dedicated groups who have earned the right to compete on the grandest stage. Let the excitement begin!
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