INDIANAPOLIS – The No. 4 Salisbury University softball team got word on Monday morning that it will go dancing this spring, as the NCAA revealed the teams in the Division III tournament, and the Sea Gulls have not only received an at-large bid, but will host a four-team regional tournament this weekend.
The Sea Gulls will welcome Penn State University Berks, No. 17 William Paterson University, and Manhattanville College for the three-day opening-round regional. The double-elimination action begins on Friday, May 9.
The NCAA has changed the format for the Division III tournament this season. In the past, the selected teams had been broken down to eight regional tournaments, with the winners from each advancing to the World Series. Beginning in 2014, the teams will be aligned into 16 three- or four-team regional events. The 16 winners will advance to eight two-team super regionals, which will be a best-of-three series. The winners of those events will move on to the eight-team World Series, this season being played in Tyler, Texas.
The Sea Gulls have been ranked in the top 10 in the nation all year, and posted a 35-3 record heading into the tournament. The Sea Gulls boast the fourth-best batting average and fifth-best earned-run average in the nation.
Penn St. Berks (29-8) made the tournament as the North Eastern Athletic Conference champions, with a 29-8 record and a perfect 3-0 run through the NEAC tournament, allowing just three runs. The Nittany Lions have won 11-straight games heading into the tournament. Penn St. Berks is the nation's top scoring team, bringing home 8.82 runs per game.
Manhattanville (27-8) was also an automatic qualifier, winning its first Freedom Conference title. The Valiants won three straight in the tournament, including a 7-4 win over King's (Pa.) College in the championship. Manhattanville enters the postseason with the 10th-ranked batting average in the nation, at .373.
William Paterson (30-9) earned an at-large bid after getting knocked out of the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament in three games.; the Pioneers were the top seed in the NJAC tournament. William Paterson cracked the National Fastpitch Coaches Poll on April 23 this season, at No. 21 and climbed last week to No. 17.
Against the three teams coming to Salisbury this weekend, the Sea Gulls have gone 11-5 all time. The Sea Gulls have never played Penn St. Berks, and hold a 4-0 record against Manhattanville, with the most recent meeting coming in 2005. Against William Paterson, Salisbury is 7-5, having won six of the last seven meetings, most recently in the 2000 season.
Each team will play one game on Friday, Salisbury begins with Penn St.-Berks, the time is to be announced.
To see the full 62-team NCAA field, click here.