Today is the first NCAA?softball playoff game in Mansfield University history, when the Mountaineers meet West Virginia Wesleyan at noon today in the opening game of the Division II?Atlantic Region Site 2 tournament at Shippensburg.
"It should be fun," said 23-year coach Mountaineer head coach Edith Gallagher. "West Virginia Wesleyan has a very good team and we're a very good team. We need to play our best and see if our best is better than their best."
The winner will face the winner of the Shippensburg vs. Indiana (Pa.) contest on Saturday at 11 a.m. with the losers of today's opening round games meeting at 1:30.
The tournament winner will face the winner of the Atlantic Region Site 1 Tournament at California (Pa.) in a Super Regional. The winner of the Super Region will join the seven other Super Regional winners in the NCAA finals.
WV?Wesleyan is the top-seeded team in Site 2 and won the tournament last year. Mansfield (23-17) is the No. 4 seed.
The Mountaineers are the fourth-seed in the tournament with a 23-17 overall record.
Mansfield is led by the most accomplished senior class in school history in Emily Crandell, Kaitlyn Harris, Kate Pratt and Stephanie Simmeth.
Pratt, the PSAC East Player of the Year, and Simmeth both earned All-PSAC East 1st Team honors this season while Crandell has been a mainstay on the pitching staff that ranks 31st in the nation in ERA. Harris is considered one of the best defensive first baseman in the nation.
Pratt, MU's all-time home run leader with 40, has been exceptional in the circle, at the plate and in the field. The righty has a 10-7 record and ranks among the national leaders in ERA at 1.64.
Pratt starts at shortstop where she has batted .346 this season with a team-best eight home runs. She also tops the team in doubles (15), runs batted in (29) and slugging percentage (.654). In the field, Pratt has committed just four errors in 161 chances (.975).
Crandell has also been steady on the mound, at 7-8 with a 3.14 ERA. Sophomore Ashley Inman ranks 18th in Division II with a 1.28 ERA over 43.2 innings.
Mansfield has a strong defensive infield, even more so when Pratt is at short. Harris is batting .266 at first base and has committed just two errors in 311 chances for a .994 fielding percentage.
Junior Courtney Bauder of Jersey Shore is a 2nd Team All-PSAC East selection at second base with a .328 batting average. Her 44 hits include 14 doubles and four home runs and she has been charged with just two errors all season long.
Junior Amanda Goodwin plays third or short, depending if Pratt is pitching. Goodwin sports a .323 batting average with nine doubles, a triple and home run.
Kaitlyn Hewitt started at third in the PSAC title game and is batting .353.
Simmeth, a first-team All-PSAC?outfielder, led the team in hitting with a .398 batting average including eight doubles and a home run.
Sophomore Megan Miller of Hughesville was slowed by injury but has come on of late batting .400 with a home run at the PSAC playoffs. The right fielder is hitting .222 for the season with two home runs.
Freshman speedster Kayla Allen of Jersey Shore starts in left and has had a solid rookie season.
Freshman Hannah Secord and junior Alanna Jenkins have split duties behind the plate with Secord batting ..250.