VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan University softball team will resume its quest to defend the National Title this weekend as it hosts the NCAA Division III Softball Regional Round right here in Virginia Beach, Va. The Marlins will host the four-team regional at their new Tom & Betty Broyles Field at TowneBank Park.
To begin their quest, the Marlins will take on the University of Scranton in their opener which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Manhattanvillle College and Lynchburg make up their other two teams in the pod, with their contest coming at 2 p.m. on Friday.
For those attending ticket prices will be as follows:
Adults - $10
Senior Citizen / Veteran - $8
Student - $7
Child (<12yrs) - $5
Child (<2yrs) – Free
For those unable to attend, you can view the live action of game one HERE:
HOW WE GOT HERE: The Marlins put together another tremendous season, entering the NCAA Championship as one of only three teams with 40 wins (40-4). Ranked No. 1 in the country for all but two weeks of the season, the Marlins finished out their regular season with a record of 34-3, going 18-2 in conference play. The team had to navigate its way through the loser's bracket of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Championship but finished with a win over Randolph-Macon to earn its fourth-straight ODAC Championship title and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
#DEFENDTHECROWN: The target grows ever bigger on the Marlins back as the team enters this year as the back-to-back National Champions. In 2017 and 2018, Virginia Wesleyan combined for a record of 99-6, setting the NCAA DIII record for wins in a season in back-to-back years. With the quest for title number three looming, the Marlins would join the elite club of Tufts University who was the only team to ever win three straight ('13-'14-'15).
CHOOSE YOUR PTICHING POISON: It comes as no surprise that the Marlins derive a lot of their success from the pitcher's circle. The combination of Hanna Hull and Carla Hall have been nearly unstoppable this year, helping set the nation's lowest ERA (0.89) and the highest shutout total (20). The two have combined for six no-hitters this season and haven't allowed any opponent to reach the double-digit hit mark. The pair were both named All-ODAC First Teamers as well, with Hull earning her third-straight ODAC Pitcher of the Year honors.
LINEUP SHMINEUP: There has been no secret formula to the Marlins success this season as Coach Brandon Elliott has shaken up the order nearly every outing. This year, only Beth Ford and Julia Sinnett have played in every contest with A total of 20 different players have earned a spot in the starting nine.
GREATEST HITS VOL. 1: The defense has been great, but the offense is arguably just as solid this season. The team's batting average of .341 this year ranks 38th in the country with the squad accruing 387 (100 for extra bases). Sophomore Sinnett has been a mainstay at the plate for VWU, topping the team with a .416 BA and ranking 14th in the country in total doubles (18).
IN MY [STOLEN] BAGS: If the hitting has been great, that would make the base running phenomenal. The team ranks fourth in the nation in stolen bases-per-game, averaging 3.27 a contest. Leading the way has been Jessica Goldyn (34) and Madison Glaubke (33) top the conference in stolen bags this season, and their average stolen bases per game rank 15th and 17th, nationally.
HOW SCRANTON GOT HERE: Much like the Marlins, the Royals received an automatic bid as they earned their first ever Landmark Conference Championship Title. The team currently reps a record of 32-13. Scranton had six players earn All-Conference honors, led by junior Megan Zinn whose 70 hits ranks fifth in the nation. Leading their pitching is a pair of pitchers in Jennifer Sweeney (109) and Meaghan Dowell (100) as their strikeout total ranked first and second, respectively, in their conference.
HOW MANHATTANVILLE GOT HERE: Another earner of an automatic bid, the Valiants topped the MAC Freedom Conference with a win over Misericordia in the final. The team rides a 15-win streak coming into the weekend, boasting a record 40-2 (They join VWU as one of three teams in Division III with 40 wins. This team prides itself on its offense, ranking third in the country in batting average (.388), third in scoring (7.95) and fourth in home runs per game (1.24). The teams pitching is no slouch either as ace Aaron Hartenstein's ERA of 1.24 ranks 15th among all Division III pitchers.
HOW LYNCHBURG GOT HERE: A familiar face to the Marlins, Lynchburg was the sole team in the pod to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hornets were bounced from the ODAC Championship by eventual champs VWU, but have a proven resume (32-12) that helped them gain entrance to the tournament. Lynchburg has relied on their power at the plate this season, as the team's slugging percentage of .514 ranks 21st in the nation. Mackenzie Chitwood has been a star in the lineup as her 17 home runs not only topped the conference but also ranks second in the country.