Softball Fever: Maroons place 4th in the NCAA D-III Softball Championship
Roanoke Maroons Softball Team finished the season in a manner most people never expected - in the NCAA Division III Championship tournament, the "World Series" of softball. The team was dubbed "The Dirty Dozen" by their competitors because of their short team roster and their amazing success.
By the time the Dirty Dozen made it back to Salem for the NCAA championship tournament, the team had lost one player who had to go to India for her May term course. That left just 11 players - two back-ups on the bench compared to the 10 or more back-up players on most of the other teams in the tournament.
"We started [the season] off with only 12 players and I think everyone kind of counted us out in the ODAC just because there was only 12 of us. But we're a spunky little 12," Felice Lowery, Roanoke's catcher, told The Roanoke Times.
The success of Maroons softball and the excitement of the NCAA Championship tournament led to a serious case of softball fever throughout the College community.
Many softball alumnae returned to Salem to support their team. The Maroon Club sponsored tailgate events to allow fans to come together during the weekend. President and First Lady Mike and Terri Maxey were spotted cheering from the front row. Rooney was there, of course, leading cheers and greeting Maroon fans. Faculty and staff came from their classes and offices to cheer on the Maroons. Even though many students are traveling with May term and some have gone home for the summer, a good number of them made it out for the games, coloring the stands with maroon shirts and banners. See pictures from the post-season.
Roanoke first claimed the ODAC title with a 7-2 win over Bridgewater College at Salem's Moyer Sports Complex. Freshman pitcher Kelly Higbie was named the ODAC tournament's Most Valuable Player.
After winning the ODAC, Roanoke won the NCAA DIII Newport News Regional Tournament to advance to the 2012 NCAA Softball Championship, which is hosted by the City of Salem. The Maroons' magical post-season run would end right at home on the championship field in Salem! See coverage of the tournament from Roanoke's CBS station, WDBJ7
In an ultimate pitchers duel, Roanoke College defeated #8 ranked Tufts University, 1-0 in the opening round of the championship. Higbie pitched a one-hitter in her 34th complete game of the season. She faced 25 batters and struck out three. The Roanoke fielders helped tremendously in the one-hitter as they kept Tufts from getting a single ball out of the infield. Rhea Schleicher, Stephanie Clark, Alea Bier and Hollee Warlitner each finished with one hit. Schleicher, a freshman, scored the lone run for Roanoke, while Warlitner's double tallied the team's only RBI. For more on this game and a video of the post-game news conference, click here.
Roanoke fell in the second game to Montclair State University 2-0. The Maroons were only able to tally two hits with a double by Leona Rainey and a single by Stephanie Clark. Higbie pitched her 35th complete game. With her four strikeouts on the evening, Hibgie broke the Roanoke single-season strikeouts record, tallying 136. She passes Lyndsi Craig, who struck out 132 batters in 2006. Post-game comments from both teams are included in this news release and video, including a quote from the Montclair State coach about the intensity of the game due to the large number of fans in the stadium.
In a battle against a fellow Lutheran college, Roanoke faced Luther College in the next game. In another close game, Roanoke won over Luther 2-0 on Sunday afternoon to advance to another game that evening. Higbie doubled to right center field and later hit a two RBI single to bring in runs from Bier and Clark. To see the last inning of the game, click here.
Roanoke got on top early against defending champion Linfield College with a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But Linfield came back and scored several runs to defeat the Maroons 6-1.
Higbie earned a spot on the 2012 NCAA DIII Softball Championship All-Tournament Team for her work inside the circle and at the plate. Higbie went 3-for-3 in the Maroons 2-0 victory over Luther College. She also pitched two complete game shutouts during the Championship round as well.
Released: May 24, 2012
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