OKLAHOMA CITY —Top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan beat NFCA All-America pitcher Lindsey Thayer and St. John Fisher twice on Monday at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex to capture its first NCAA Division III Championship.
The (54-3) Marlins swept the best-of-three Championship Series with 5-0 and 1-0 victories, one day after setting the Division III record for wins in a season with the second of two straight triumphs over defending national champion Texas-Tyler.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Hanna Hull, an NFCA All-American and the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year, tossed an one-hitter with 13 strikeouts and no walks in game one, then came on in relief of starter Courtney Wright (five innings, three hits, no runs) to retire six of the final seven batters — four on strikeouts — to close out the decisive second game.
All-Tournament selection and NFCA All-American Cassetty Howerin drove in four of Virginia Wesleyan’s six runs in the two Championship Series games, including an RBI double in game two that scored fellow All-Tournament choice Madison Glaubke, who had opened the inning with a walk. It was one of only two hits in the contest — Blake Henderson had the other — off Cardinals’ ace Thayer.
In game one, Hull threw 73 of her 113 pitches for strikes and did not allow a hit until NFCA All-American Katie Mazierski’s one-out single to left in the bottom of the fourth, which broke a stretch of five straight strikeouts.
Howerin doubled home a run in the third and hit a two-run homer in the seventh, while Henderson homered in the fifth and walked and scored the Marlins’ other run.
In six NCAA Championship contests, Hull went 3-1 with two saves, a 0.90 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 31 innings. For the season, she was 32-3 with a 0.51 ERA, just 90 hits allowed and 372 strikeouts in 220.1 innings. Wright, meanwhile, finished 18-0 with an 1.34 ERA over 27 appearances.
This was Virginia Wesleyan’s first trip to the NCAA Division III Championship, while No. 8 St. John Fisher (44-8) finished tied for third at last year’s event and had been unbeaten in the postseason (eight straight wins) since losing 2-0 to Ithaca in the Empire 8 Tournament on May 7.
The Marlins won six straight in Oklahoma City after dropping their opening game to Texas-Tyler, 4-1, on Thursday afternoon. St. John Fisher, meanwhile, needed just three games to reach the finals, going 3-0 over the first three days in Oklahoma City to earn a day off on Saturday.
To see video replays of NCAA Division III Championship games, visit the NCAA's tournament site HERE.
NCAA Division III Championship All-Tournament Team
Most Outstanding Player: Hanna Hull, pitcher, Virginia Wesleyan
Sam Berghoff, shortstop, Illinois Wesleyan
Rebecca Duncan, utility, Williams
Sammy Galvez, catcher, St. Catherine
Madison Glaubke, outfield, Virginia Wesleyan
Cassetty Howerin, first base, Virginia Wesleyan
Sarah Kubik, first base, St. John Fisher
Alena Marovitz, first base, Amherst
Catherine Porter, catcher, Trine
Kaylee Prather, outfield, Texas-Tyler
Lindsey Thayer, pitcher, St. John Fisher
Cheyenne Thompson, outfield, Texas-Tyler
Courtney Wright, pitcher, Virginia Wesleyan