POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The Marist softball team (30-24 overall) found out who they would play in its second-ever trip to the NCAA tournament on Sunday night as the NCAA released its 2013 tournament bracket. The Red Foxes will head to the Norman Regional and face off with the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners in its first round game on Friday, May 17 at 8:30 ET in a contest which will air on ESPN3.
Marist’s possible second opponent would come out of the duo of Fordham (35-21) and Arkansas (34-18), who were also selected as part of the Norman Regional.
Oklahoma is currently ranked #1 in the nation and is coming off of a 47-4 regular season and 15-2 showing in the Big 12. The Sooners are led by senior pitcher Keilani Ricketts, the reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, who went 27-1 in the circle in the regular season. Michelle Gascoigne bookends the nation’s best pitching duo with a 17-3 record and a sub-1.00 ERA. Offensively, the Sooners are led by first baseman Lauren Chamberlain, who hit .423 with 25 home runs in the regular season.
The Red Foxes are coming off an exciting week of MAAC Tournament play in Poughkeepsie where they earned three straight wins to clinch to 2013 conference title. On consecutive days beginning on Thursday, May 9, the Red Foxes defeated Fairfield 3-1, Niagara 2-0 and Fairfield 4-1.
Marist is led into the NCAA Tournament by a quartet of All-MAAC postseason award winners, including the MAAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Emily Osterhaus (Suwanee, Ga.), who dominated her competition at the championship with a 3-0 record, 0.67 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.
The First Team All-MAAC duo of Nicole Cheek (Simi Valley, Calif.) and Danielle Koltz (Chenango Bridge, N.Y.), as well as Second Teamer Alyssa Zahka (Lexington, Mass.) have been productive staples in the heart of Marist’s batting order throughout the year and have put together dominant 2013 stat-lines.
Cheek, the 2013 MAAC Rookie of the Year, comes into the NCAA Tournament with a .352 batting average, a Marist single-season tying mark of 15 home runs and a Red Fox record of 52 RBIs. Koltz, the Red Foxes’ two-hole hitter, is second on the team in batting at .368 with a program-record 48 runs scored, 12 doubles, nine home runs and 39 RBIs, while Zahka leads the team with a .370 average, eight home runs and 41 RBIs and has controlled opponents’ base-stealing game by gunning down 50 percent of would be base stealers.
As a team, Marist is batting .286 with five hitters registering averages of .321 or better. Strong in the pitching arena, as well, the Red Foxes have a team ERA of 2.92 with 10 shutouts in 54 games.
This is Marist’s second all-time trip to the NCAA Tournament as the Red Foxes earned the automatic bid in 2006 with current assistant coach Melissa Giordano as the team’s starting left fielder. In that year’s tournament the Red Foxes played in the Tucson Regional with the University of Arizona as the host institution. The second-seeded Wildcats defeated Marist in the first game before Auburn University eliminated the Red Foxes in the double elimination bracket.