Muskingum wins 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - Muskingum College won the NCAA Division III softball national championship with a 4-1 triumph over Central College of Pella, Iowa at Gelein Field here Sunday afternoon.
In winning the school's first-ever national championship, the Muskies went through the eight-team, double elimination tournament unbeaten and extended their consecutive game win streak to 34 games, a Division III record, breaking the mark of 33 set by St. Mary's University (MN) in 1998 and equalled by Muskingum in 1999.
The victory, a school record 47th for the season against just six losses, was a bittersweet one for Muskingum in that assistant coach John Wells collapsed during warmups for the Muskies' Friday game against defending national champion St. Mary's. He died later that night at an Eau Claire hospital. [related story]
The championship game was won for Muskingum when Shelli Manson and Jennifer Shay hit back-to-back pitches for home runs that staked the Muskies to a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Manson's came with a runner on base.
While Central came back with one in the top of the fifth, Muskingum regained the three-run advantage with a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Dani Keiffer, who handled the pitching duties for all 28 of the Muskies' innings in the national tournament, earned her 30th win of the season against just three losses. She gave up six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. She allowed only two runs during the entire tournament and only Central's in the championship game was earned.
Central missed an opportunity to gain some momentum in the second inning. The Dutch got leadoff hits from Kelly Oliver and Missy Voigt. After they were advanced to second and third on a sacrifice, Oliver was thrown out at the plate and Katy Lein, who had reached first on a fielder's choice, was called out for leaving first early.
In the fifth, Central scored its lone run on a sacrifice fly by pinchhitter Emily Carlson. She plated Kris Hughes who had reach on a fielder's choice. Muskingum's matching run in the bottom of the fifth came off the bat of Mandy Carnes who doubled home Chantelle Andrews who had singled and advanced to second on a single by Julie Ryan.
Keiffer was one of four Muskingum players named to the All-Tournament team. The others included infielders Carla Kampschmidt (first base) and Ryan (shortstop) and outfielder Shay.
Central had three named to the All-Tourney team in catcher Annie Van Wetzinga, infielder Molly Parrott (second base) and pitcher Libby Hysell. The runner-up finish was the best for the Dutch since 1993 when they won their third national championship. Central has advanced to the NCAA tournament 16 times and this was their 10th top four finish.
The remainder of the All-Tournament team included Wheaton's Rachael Powers (third base) and Carmella Ranieri (designated player), St. Mary's Jennifer Meyer (Outfield) and Jackie Huegel (at-large), Roanoke's Amy Layman (at-large), William Paterson's Katie Morris (at-large) and North Central's Betsy Dwyer (at-large).