Softball wins HCAC, plays in NCAA tourney
Regular season and tournament championships in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and a trip to the NCAA Division III national tournament were the trophies of an outstanding season by the softball team, which ended the year with a 35-11 overall record and a sparkling 14-2 mark in the HCAC.
After getting off to a slow start with a 3-4 early record, Transy caught fire with an eight-game winning streak, including a 5-0 mark in the Spring Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Fla., over spring break. The Pioneers were 4-2 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Lead-off Classic in Panama City Beach, Fla., where they won the bronze bracket with a 13-5 win over Lynchburg College in the finals.
In conference play, the Pioneers ran their record to 6-0 before their first loss, then won eight league games in a row. As regular season champs, Transy hosted the HCAC tournament, where they were 3-0, including a 6-2 win over Manchester College in the title game.
In NCAA tourney play, Transy defeated No. 17 Washington University in St. Louis 4-2 in the opener, then lost to host No. 13 DePauw University 8-6 in eight innings and 4-0 to Trine University to end the season.
First-year infielder Megan Mitchell (right) swept the top individual player honors in the HCAC when she was named Player and Freshman of the Year. She led Transy in six offensive categories, including batting average (.492), runs scored (49), home runs (17), runs-batted-in (60), total bases (129), and slugging percentage (.977). She was named to the Louisville Slugger-National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America third team.
Mitchell was joined on the All-HCAC first team by junior pitcher Kendra DeArk, junior second baseman Alicia Winans, and sophomore outfielder Emily McCarty. DeArk won a school-record 21 games with an earned run average of 1.53. Winans batted .343 and drove in 19 runs, while McCarty had 24 RBI and was second on the team in runs scored with 48.
Head coach Michelle Manning was named HCAC Coach of the Year for the second straight year. She has a Transy career record of 103-54 after four seasons, including a 61-21 mark over the past two years.