Softball heads to Florida for NCAA Regionals this weekend
The Dartmouth softball team will head to Tallahassee, Florida, this weekend to face the ninth-seeded Florida State University in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Tallahassee Regional. After winning the Ivy League Championship against the University of Pennsylvania for the second consecutive year, the Big Green (25-16, 16-4 Ivy) is gearing up to compete against 63 of the best softball teams across the nation.
Their first-round matchup, Florida State (45-12, 20-3 ACC), is currently on an eight-game win streak, having won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship against the University of Pittsburgh.
Seminole infielder Jessica Warren has established herself as a power hitter with a team high of 50 RBIs and 16 home runs, while leadoff hitter Morgan Klaevemann holds a .401 batting average and .486 on-base percentage. The team is collectively batting .293 with a .455 slugging percentage, proving to be a threat to any pitcher on the mound.
“We’re going to do what we did all year,” Dartmouth head coach Shannon Doepking said. “We’re going to go to our own strength, and the most important thing when you’re facing a powerful line-up like Florida State is making sure we’re living off the plate, our mistakes are going outside and not staying in the middle of the plate and we’re consistent with hitting our spot.”
Florida State’s ace pitcher Lacey Waldrop has won 28 games this season, compiling a 1.49 ERA and 222 strikeouts over 201.2 innings, and their second starting pitcher, Jessica Burroughs, holds a 2.33 ERA and 198 strikeouts through 156 innings.
Doepking emphasized the importance of making routine plays and being disciplined at the plate.
“We’re going to face really talented pitchers this weekend, and it’s going to be important that we don’t help them out,” Dopeking said. “We need to make sure our pitchers are living off the plate and not throwing the ball over the plate. That’s been our game plan all year, and it’s worked so far and it’s going to be really important this weekend.”
Earlier this week, Katie McEachern ’16 was crowned with the Ivy League Player of the Year Award, and Kristen Rumley ’15 became the first pitcher to win the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Award three consecutive years. Doepking was also named the Coach of the Year.
For McEachern, the award has been something that she has been eyeing since the beginning of the season.
“It was a pretty high goal that I set, and I was working for it throughout the year, so for me it means a lot to me to have achieved that, and now it’s just setting up my goal for next year,” McEachern said. “As for my team, I wouldn’t have half the stats I have without [them], and it just shows how great of a team that we have.”
McEachern and Rumley have lead the team offensively and defensively. With McEachern posting a .449 average, 10 home runs, 28 RBIs and a .956 fielding percentage, and Rumley recording a 1.99 ERA over 151.1 innings, racking up 125 strikeouts and also batting .364 on the season, the team was close to invincible. Thanks to a combination of a deadly offense, unhittable pitching and smart coaching, the Big Green has enjoyed success this season.
Traveling to another part of the country, especially Florida, is nothing new to the team as they opened their season at South Florida against Auburn University, where the Big Green recorded their first win of the season, a 4-2 game against Auburn.
“At the beginning of the season, we traveled to Texas and several other places so it’s just the same,” Rumley said. “We’re used to the travel, and we’re just excited to play at regionals.”
The Big Green and the Seminoles will face off at 7 p.m. on Friday after Central Florida and South Carolina Universities kick off the Tallahassee Regional at 4:30 p.m. This weekend’s regional will be double elimination, with the winner moving on to the Super Regional on May 21-24 against the victor of the Knoxville Regional.