May 11, 2004
NKU AIMS FOR NCAA TITLE THIS WEEK
Norse (54-5) to meet St. Cloud State (40-13) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University softball team will travel to Altamonte Springs, Fla., for the NCAA Division II national finals this week, and the Norse will begin play in the double-elimination event at 1:30 p.m. this Thursday (May 13) against St. Cloud (Minn.) State University (40-13).
The NCAA Division II national finals consist of the eight teams which won their respective regions from around the country.
NKU enters the NCAA Division II national finals with a 54-5 record after capturing the Great Lakes Region title last weekend. The Norse also won the Great Lakes Valley Conference regular-season championship with a 19-1 record.
NKU won the Great Lakes Region crown last Saturday with a 4-0 victory against Grand Valley State University at Highland Heights, Ky. The Norse also posted a 6-0 win over West Virginia Wesleyan College in the opening round, and then knocked off Lewis University, 2-1, in the second round.
ACE ON THE MOUND: Krystal Lewallen hurled a one-hit shutout last Saturday as NKU defeated Grand Valley State, 4-0. Lewallen struck out nine batters en route to her 31st victory of the season, and it was the sophomore pitchers third win during the Great Lakes Region Tournament.
The only hit Lewallen allowed was Sarah Paapes fourth-inning blooper over the pitcher's mound that fell between three players.
Lewallen, who allowed just one unearned run in 21 innings on the mound during the Great Lakes Region Tournament, was named the most valuable player of the event. The Crestwood, Ky., native is now 31-3 this season and owns a 47-12 career record at NKU. The 47 victories are No. 3 in Norse history.
Lewallen enters the national finals having set school records for strikeouts (293), innings pitched (242.2), earned run average (0.26 ERA), shutouts (18), complete games (30) and wins (31). She was also named the GLVC Player of the Year this spring and earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II National Player of the Week honors in March.
TOP OF THE ORDER: NKU leadoff batter Ricki Rothbauer is hitting .348 with a team-leading eight triples. The sophomore second baseman has also scored a school-record 46 runs and ranks second with 71 hits.
Junior center fielder Stephanie Leimbach, who bats second in the NKU order, leads the team in hitting with a .381 average. She also has an NKU single-season record 74 hits and ranks second on the squad with 42 runs scored. Leimbach was named to the Great Lakes Region All-Tournament Team last week.
LINDEMAN PRODUCES THE RUNS: NKU junior first baseman Angie Lindeman has knocked in a Norse single-season record 50 runs this spring. She also has a team-leading four home runs and is batting .298.
BECKER IN THE CLUTCH: NKU junior third baseman Sara Becker was named to the Great Lakes Region All-Tournament Team last week. Becker batted .333 with a game-winning hit during the Great Lakes Region Tournament. She is hitting .286 with three home runs and 20 RBI this spring.
OWENS, NAPIER EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: NKU junior catcher Megan Owens and freshman designated player Becky Napier each earned Great Lakes Region All-Tournament honors. Owens batted .571 during the Great Lakes Region Tournament and went 2-for-3 in the championship game, while Napier finished with a batting average of .429.
BOWN NEARS 200-WIN PLATEAU: Kathy Bown is in her sixth season as the head softball coach at NKU. Bown is 199-99 in six years as the NKU softball coach and is the program's all-time winningest coach.
Last season, Bown guided NKU to a 36-17 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Norse defeated West Virginia Wesleyan, 11-2, in the first round for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
The 36 victories in 2003 tied the school record, which was set the previous season.
ABOUT ST. CLOUD STATE: The Huskies, champions of the North Central Regional, are 40-13 going into the national finals. St. Cloud State features senior first baseman Brooke Gentzler, who has nine home runs and 39 RBI. She is also batting .378 with nine doubles.
Abby Velta is hitting .370 with 44 runs scored and three homers, while Angie Berg is batting .347 with five homers and 34 RBI. St. Cloud State pitcher Nicole Webb is 28-6 with a 1.16 ERA, and she has 203 strikeouts this season.
NCAA Division II softball national finals
(at Altamonte Springs, Fla.)
Thursday, May 13
Western New Mexico (44-11) vs. Caldwell (N.J.) (42-5), 11 a.m.
NKU (54-5) vs. St. Cloud (Minn.) State (40-13), 1:30 p.m.
Shippensburg (Pa.) (45-4) vs. Angelo State (43-10), 4 p.m.
Florida Southern (51-6) vs. Kennesaw (Ga.) State (64-4), 6:30 p.m.
Friday, May 14
Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 , 11 a.m.
Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 1:30 p.m.
Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 4 p.m.
Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 15
Game 9: Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 7, noon
Game 10: Winner of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 8, 2:30 p.m.
Game 11: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8, 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 16
Game 12: Winner of Game 11 vs. *Winner of Game 9 or 10, noon
Game 13: *Winner of Game 9 or 10 vs. Loser of Game 11, 2:30 p.m.
Game 14: #Winner of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 13, 7 p.m.
Game 15: If necessary, 9:30 p.m.
*Pairings shall be adjusted for Games 12 and 13 to match teams that have not played previously or that have not played since the first round.
#If three teams remain after Game 13, the winner of Game 11 shall receive a bye in Game 14.