St. Thomas meets Coe College in NCAA softball regionals

The St. Thomas softball team, fresh off its victory in the MIAC tournament, will meet Coe (Iowa) College on Friday, May 11, in the first round of the NCAA regional tournament in Pella, Iowa.

The Tommies (37-7) are ranked 14th in the nation. Unranked Coe (34-11) lost in the Iowa Conference tournament but received an NCAA bid anyway. Game time is 2 p.m. at Central College. The other teams at the double-elimination regional are No. 1 seed Luther (Iowa), St. Scholastica (Minn.), Central (Iowa) and Wisconsin-River Falls.

“Coe’s been in the World Series a few times so not only have they been in the regionals but they also won the regionals, as have all of us except one of the teams,” coach John Tschida said. “It should be very well-played softball.”

The Coe-St. Thomas winner will play the Central-River Falls winner at noon on Saturday, May 12. The regional champ heads to the softball world series in Salem, Va.

The Tommies split with River Falls this year, but they have not faced the other clubs in the regional. It is the 14th NCAA bid in 15 years for St. Thomas, which won national titles in 2004 and 2005. St. Thomas lost to Luther in last year’s regional finals.

The women shut out Gustavus 8-0 Saturday, May 5, in the MIAC softball playoff championship, guaranteeing a bid in this year’s playoffs. Gustavus did not get an at-large bid to the NCAAs, leaving St. Thomas as the only MIAC school invited. It is the ninth straight year that Tschida’s team has made the NCAA tournament.

“We’re very young, but it’s already been a very good year and we are clicking here in the end,”  Tschida said. “We’re just playing the game of softball and playing at the highest level we can.”

Freshman right-handed pitcher Kendra Bowe threw a one-hit shutout for five innings, and the Tommies scored seven second-inning runs against the Gusties. Sophomore outfielder Tisa Phinney plated two runs with a single, extending her hitting streak to 21 games.

Coe is led by senior pitcher Ashlee Simon, who is 20-5 with a 1.01 earned-run-average, and senior Sidney Ridout, who is hitting .333 with nine home runs.

“We know we are going to face an All-American-calibre pitcher, which will be a big challenge for us,” Tschida said.