NEWPORT, R.I. – The Salve Regina University softball team has been selected as the number two seed in the 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Championship tournament. The #2 Seahawks will host #7 Simmons College on Wednesday (6 p.m.) at Toppa Field.
This marks just the second ECAC Championship berth in the history of the program, with the Seahawks last appearing in the tournament in 2009.
Salve Regina has compiled an overall mark of 24-16 this season, currently sitting just one victory shy of matching the program's all-time mark of 25 wins in a season set during its last ECAC qualifying season in 2009. The team recorded a 14-4 record during Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) play, capturing their first regular season conference title since 1999. The offense set a school record with 418 total bases this season, while also tying a program mark with nine home runs, and ranking second on the school's all-time records list in both hits (332) and doubles (51).
The Seahawks are led by CCC Coach of the Year Kerri Scroope, as well as a list of six all-conference players, including CCC Pitcher of the Year Jen Cruver (North Haven, Conn.), All-CCC First Team selections Laura Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.), Jillian Quintana (Denver, Colo.), and Marissa Simpson (Brimfield, Mass.), All-CCC Second Team member Kristen Parolise (Hamden, Conn.), and All-CCC Honorable Mention short stop Ali Muehlbronner (Glenside, Pa.). Cruver has earned 23 wins on the mound for the Seahawks this season, while Quintana has driven in a Salve Regina single season record 41 runs to date.
The Sharks boasted a 24-16 overall record, as well as a 19-7 mark in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). They are led by GNAC Player of the Year Emily Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) and GNAC Rookie of the Year Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.). Cunningham batted .472 on the season with nine home runs, 45 runs batted in, and an impressive .862 slugging percentage, while Backhaus went 13-8 on the mound with a stingy 1.86 ERA, finishing fourth in the nation in shutouts and 14th in strikeouts per inning.
Wednesday's contest marks just the second all-time meeting between these two programs. The Sharks edged the Seahawks by a score of 9-7 during their only other head-to-head matchup, which was held at a neutral location in Cape Coral, Fla. back in 2006.
In other first round action, #1 Brandeis hosts #8 Daniel Webster, #3 Endicott welcomes #6 Worcester State, and #4 Plymouth State faces #5 Rivier. The four first-round winners will meet for a double-elimination tournament at the site of the highest remaining seed on Saturday and Sunday.