2017 NCAA Tournament Super Regional | 4 NCAA Tournaments | 3 Conference Championships

Tournament Preview: No. 24 Softball at the NFCA Leadoff Classic

Tournament Preview: No. 24 Softball at the NFCA Leadoff Classic

No. 24 Softball at the NCFA Leadoff Classic
Friday, March 2 vs. No. 11 Christopher Newport, 12 p.m. | vs. No. 6 Trine, 2:30pm
Saturday, March 3 vs. No. 20 Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 5 p.m. | vs. No. 21 Central (Iowa), 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4 vs. No. 9 Texas Lutheran, 11 a.m. | vs. William Paterson, 1:30 p.m. (all times eastern)
Lincoln Park Field – Tucson, Ariz.

The 24th-ranked Babson College softball team opens the 2018 season with six games over three days at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Ariz, beginning on Friday. The Beavers, who are competing in the event for the first time since 2008 and traveling to Arizona for the first time since 2007, will face five nationally-ranked foes to start the year.

vs. Christopher Newport: first meeting
vs. Trine: first meeting
vs. Wisconsin-Oshkosh: first meeting
vs. Central (Iowa): Babson suffered an 11-2 loss in six innings to the Dutch in the only other meeting between the teams at the 2007 NFCA Leadoff Classic in Panama City Beach, Fla.
vs. Texas Lutheran: first meeting
vs. William Paterson: first meeting

No. 11 Christopher Newport (3-1) is coming off a doubleheader sweep of Division II Davis & Elkins on February 24. First-year Patty Maye Ohanian is 5-for-11 (.455) with a double, a homer and six RBI, while sophomores Tara Deck and Liz Andrews are both hitting .400 and have combined for three doubles and eight runs batted in over the Captains' first four games. Classmates Aubrey Bates and Laura Kate Moss boast a 0.58 ERA and have recorded 24 strikeouts in 21 innings this spring. Senior Rachael Payne, who is on the national player of the year watch list, is one of 14 returners for a team that went 34-10 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the 11th year in a row in 2017.

No. 6 Trine (0-0) returns 14 players from a squad that went 37-10 and reached the College World Series for the second time in school history last spring. All-conference and all-region senior Kaylee Fox is on the national player of the year watch list after finishing among the Division III leaders with 16 home runs in 2016. Sophomore Makenna Hartline earned all-region honors after belting 11 homers, while classmate Danielle Ray finished 18-5 with 2.06 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 163.1 innings as a rookie.

No. 20 Wisconsin-Oshkosh (4-0) enters the weekend coming off a sweep of Lakeland and Marian on February 25. Sophomore Amanda McIlhany is 6-for-10 with four RBI and all-region junior Abby Menting has gone 7-for-12 (.583) at the plate with four extra-base hits and four RBI this season. Sophomore Claire Petrus and junior Bailey Smaney boast a 0.91 ERA and have struck out 19 over 22 innings of work. The Titans return 13 players from a team that went 33-13 and fell to Trine in the NCAA super regionals.

No. 21 Central (0-0) returns a pair of all-region selections among six position starters after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 28th time in 31 years last spring. Sophomore Sara Tallman batted .408 with seven doubles and 24 stolen bases, and senior Paige Dickel hit .336 with 13 extra-base hits and 22 RBI in 2017. JuniorMariah Fritz finished 10-5 with a 1.56 ERA and two shutouts for a pitching staff that lost its top hurler to graduation. The Dutch, which open the weekend against Trine and Christopher Newport, finished with an overall mark of 32-10 last year.

No. 9 Texas Lutheran (2-0) shutout Huston-Tillotson in both ends of a season-opening doubleheader back on February 10. Senior All-American Maitlin Raycroft struck out 16 and tossed her ninth career no-hitter in the opening game of the twin bill for the Bulldogs. Texas Lutheran returns 17 players from a team that went 38-6 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row last spring. Senior Kyla Lockley hit .363 with 12 doubles, 29 stolen bases and 43 runs scored, while classmate Kelsi McEachern batted .330 with 13 extra-base hits and drove in 33 runs in 2017. Raycroft went 21-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 140.2 innings in the circle.

William Paterson (0-0) returns 12 players from a team that went 28-13 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years last spring. Junior Christine Griffith was named to the preseason national player of the year watch list after batting .430 with 22 extra-base hits and 33 runs batted in last season, while Kara Molnar hit .346 with seven doubles, seven triples and RBI. The Pioneers, who lost their top two pitchers to graduation, bring back sophomore Andee Lupica, who was 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in seven relief appearances in 2017.

No. 24 Babson (0-0) enters the season with 13 players from a team that went 33-16 and reached the NCAA super regionals for the first time in school history last spring. Junior Josephine Mares hit .348 with 11 extra-base hits and 13 RBI, classmate Annie Quine batted .323 with six doubles and 20 runs batted in, and fellow junior Ashley Tango smacked a team-high 11 doubles to go along with 23 RBI. Senior Ali Reilly went 17-7 with 2.50 ERA and eight shutouts in 173.2 innings, while sophomore Brooke Stock was 16-9 with a 2.76 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 167.1 innings as a rookie. In addition to last year's NCAA Tournament success, the Beavers won their first NEWMAC Tournament championship since 2006 with three straight elimination-game victories.

The Green and White, which was ranked 25th in the NFCA Division III preseason poll back on February 8, enters the season in the top 25 for the first time since 2014. Babson is currently one of just three New England programs in the national rankings along with No. 4 Williams and No. 7 Amherst.

Quine enters the season having reached base in six consecutive games, while Tango and senior Samantha Smith both own a base hit in three straight outings. Additionally, Reilly won her final eight decisions in 2017. 

The Beavers batted .550 (61-for-111) with runners on third base and less than two outs last season.