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NCAA Division III Championship: Day Four
NCAA DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIP
Ordinarily when a team sets an NCAA Division III record for consecutive wins it's a big story in itself. But for Muskingum College, the record 34th consecutive win happened to be in the Division III championshipgame, 4-1 over Central College. The Muskies, who swept through the tournament with a 4-0 record, essentially won the game in the fourth inningon back-to-back home runs by Shelli Hanson (a two-run shot) and, on the very next pitch, by Jennifer Shay. Suddenly, on two pitches, Muskingum had broken a 0-0 tie to take a 3-0 lead. Central came back to score a run in the top of the fifth on Beth Peterson's sacrifice fly. But Muskingum avenged that run in the bottom of the fifth, on Mandi Carnes' RBI double.
MUSKINGUM COACH DONNA NEWBERRY on how her team continued to play at a championship level despite the death of assistant coachJohn Wells on Friday: "Our theme all year has been 'stay in thepresent'. Everyone (on the team) knew that, but to be able to do it is another thing."
NEWBERRY on the back-to-back home runs: "That's about the fourthor fifth time we've done that this year. But this time, it was huge,coming in the championship. Our timing couldn't have been better."
NEWBERRY on how her team will spend the first few days back in New Concord, Ohio, the home of Muskingum College: "the funeralfor John will be on Wednesday, and we'll all be involved in that. Then,we'll get back to celebrating."
MUSKINGUM'S SHELLI MANSON: on her two-run home run thatbroke a 0-0 tie in the fourth ininng: "I don't remember the pitch, Ijust heard it come off the bat. I hoped it would go out. It was big.It let us relax a little and get into a groove."
MUSKINGUM PITCHER DANI KEIFFER who pitched every inning ofMuskingum's four tournament games: "I credit my defense. They made allthe plays. This is a dream come true. I'm still in shock. It's just unbelievable. It's a dedication for John (Wells)."
CENTRAL COACH GEORGE WARES: "When you win that many in a row (34), you're doing a lot of things right. I thought our players competed.We had a chance to score a run or two early, but we hit some ballsright at people."
WARES, who has guided Central to three national championshipsand has won more postseason games than any active Division III head softballcoach, on the experience of competing in the national tournament: "Somebodyasked me if I had the choice of coming here 10 more times and finishingsecond or third every time, or coming here just one more time and winningit all, I'd take the 10 more times even if we never won one. It's sucha great experience."
CENTRAL'S ANNIE VAN WETZINGA: "I thought we were fired up allday. We hit the ball pretty good in the second game, but not many of them fell."
CENTRAL'S MOLLY PARROTT: "I'm just disappointed for our seniors. Our goal all year was to win the national title, but wejust fell short. We had a couple of opportunities early, but we justcouldn't get things to fall our way."
Central once again employed its "small ball" strategy to defeatWhteaton 5-1 and clinch a spot in this afternoon's championshipgame against Muskingum. Only two of Central's seven hits left theinfield; the Dutch beat out two bunts and legged out three infieldhits while stealing three bases and taking advantage of twoWheaton errors. Central scored first, breaking through with tworuns in the fourth inning. With one out, Denise Barnard reached base on an infield hit and Mandy Jens followed with a sacrificeattempt that turned into a bunt single that advanced Barnard tosecond. All-American catcher Annie Van Wetzinga followed with a sharpsingle to left that scored Barnard and Kelly Oliver's infield groundout plated Jens. Central padded its lead with a three-runsixth. Molly Parrott led off with a single and was sacrificed tosecond by Barnard. Jens reached base on a bunt single and Parrottdashed home from second with Jens taking second on the throw home. Van Wetzinga was hit by a pitch and Jens and Van Wetzinga were sacrificed to third and second respectively by Oliver. Jens thenscored on Voight's single and Van Wetzinga came home at the end ofa double steal. Wheaton spoiled Libby Hysell's shutout bid with a run in the seventh, scoring on a hit and two Central errors.