TYLER, Texas – The No. 4 Salisbury University softball team will play for its first national championship against No. 1 Tufts University on Monday. The teams will begin play in what has become a best-of-three series at noon, eastern time, with a second game scheduled for later in the afternoon.
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Will it happen on Monday?
The Sea Gull or Jumbos have the chance to win a national championship on Monday, but the ability to complete the series on the day is still up in the air. Both teams have worked their way undefeated through the NCAA Division III Softball Championship bracket. In the double-elimination event, one team would need to sweep the two games on Monday to claim the title without the "if" game on Tuesday. Whether two games can be completed on Monday depends on the weather. The first game was originally scheduled for 2 p.m., eastern time, but has been moved up by two hours to attempt to get the games in before expected poor weather hits the area.
How we got here
The Sea Gulls scored on a Kim Dorsey base hit in the ninth inning to remain perfect in the championship event with a 3-2, nine-inning win against the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Sunday. Rachel Johnson worked all nine innings in the circle, allowing the two runs, only one of which was earned.
How they got here
The Jumbos opened up the offense on Sunday, scoring in all but one inning to grab an 8-0, five-inning win against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Cassie Ruscz was 3-for-3 in the game, driving in a pair of runs and Allyson Fournier improved to 26-0 on the year with the win, striking out seven in four innings of work.
Two of the best there are
Johnson and Fournier are two of the top pitchers in the nation, and the statistics prove it. Fournier is the NCAA Division III leader in strikeouts (12.3) and hits allowed per seven innings (2.29), while Johnson is second in both categories, with 11.3 strikeouts and 3.60 hits allowed per seven innings.
Going for the crown
Salisbury has been a finalist in two NCAA championships, but has come up just short on each occasion. In 2003, Salisbury lost twice to Central (Iowa) College, and in 2005, Salisbury fell to St. Thomas.
Capping a busy weekend
Both Tufts and Salisbury have already had successful Memorial Day weekends. The Jumbos claimed the men's lacrosse national championship on Sunday and senior Jana Hieber won the national championship in the women's 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday. Not to be outdone, Salisbury won the women's lacrosse championship on Sunday, while sophomore Luke Campbell was crowned the national championship at the track & field championships, in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.
If either team can win both games on Monday, it will take home the national championship. If the teams split the two games, they would return for a winner-take-all game on Tuesday, which is scheduled to begin at noon, eastern time.