The Denison softball team returns to the North Coast Athletic Conference Softball Tournament this Friday and Saturday after securing the third-seed in the final weekend of the regular season. The four-team, double elimination tournament will be hosted by top-seeded Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
The Big Red will enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed for the second-straight season after compiling a 10-6 record in conference action. That mark did put them in a tie with Wooster, but via their doubleheader sweep of the Scots Denison was slotted third and Wooster took the fourth seed. As the third seed, Denison will play second-seeded DePauw in the first round on Friday at 10 a.m.
The DU offense ranks as the best in the NCAC with a .333 average and 395 total hits. The other three teams in the tournament are hitting below .300 as a team. Denison also has the second-lowest earned run average at 3.16, second only to the top-seeded Tigers (1.29).
Junior Lauren Secaras currently leads the team in seven offensives categories including batting average (.414), slugging percentage (.643), on-base percentage (.457), hits (58), RBIs (39), home runs (8) and total bases (90). She also leads the NCAC in five of those categories: hits, RBIs, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage. Secaras has also been an asset inside the circle, registering three saves and posting a 1.94 ERA in six appearances. Sophomore Laura Bagan has been right behind Secaras in nearly every hitting category. She is hitting .400 with 52 hits, which include nine doubles and seven home runs. She has also driven in 35 runs and posted a .631 slugging percentage.
Inside the circle, junior Sarah Herold ranks tied for second in the conference in shutouts (4), while also sitting second in opponent batting average (.211). Herold is third in the league in wins (10) and fourth in strikeouts (75). Senior Erin Laswell (8-4) leads the team with 19 appearances and boasts a 3.13 ERA with 52 strikeouts.
The second-seeded DePauw Tigers closed out the regular season with 20-18 overall record which included a 13-3 NCAC mark.
The pitching duo of Brooke Bandy and Emma Baldwin have each logged over 20 appearances this weekend. Baldwin has a 1.90 ERA with a league-best six saves and 119 strikeouts in 96 innings pitched. Bandy, who has started 20 of 23 appearances has fanned 60 batters in 73 innings of work.
Offensively, five Tigers are hitting over .300 led by Gabby Smart's .338 batting average. She has scored 19 runs and swiped 10 bases in 35 starts. Sidney Holler leads DePauw with seven of the team's 10 home runs, while Liz Getz has a team-leading 11 stolen bases.
The winner of this opening round contest will face the winner of top-seeded Wittenberg (29-5, 15-1 NCAC) and fourth-seeded Wooster (19-21, 10-6 NCAC), with the other two teams going head-to-head in the first elimination game. Wooster was the only team to hand Wittenberg a conference loss.
Since its inception in 2001, Denison has claimed six NCAC Tournament championships, the most of any program. They begin their quest for number seven at 10 a.m. on Friday (May 5).