Central College was awarded a record 28th NCAA Division III softball tournament berth Monday.
The Dutch are part of a 62-team field, the program’s 28th appearance in the past 32 years, all under hall of fame coach George Wares. It’s Central’s sixth berth in the past seven years. Ithaca (N.Y.) also cracked the field for the 28th time.
Central (32-8) will play host to the four-team, double-elimination Pella, Iowa Regional and is the region’s top seed in a field of postseason veterans. The University of St. Thomas (Minn.) (34-9), a perennial power, is Central’s opponent at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex softball field. Earlier, Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (26-12) meets Iowa Conference rival Coe College (29-9) in a 1 p.m. game.
St. Thomas is making its 25th tourney appearance and captured national titles in 2004 and 2005. The Tommies have a 69-47 NCAA mark. Coe is in the field for the 15th time and has a 41-30 tourney record. Washington-St. Louis received its 15th NCAA berth and has a 25-27 tourney record. The Bears are making their fifth NCAA regional appearance in Pella.
Central has four NCAA titles (1988, 1991, 1993, 2003) and has a 92-54 posteason mark.
Regional tourney play continues Saturday and Sunday, with the regional winner advancing to a two-team super regional May 19-20, meeting the winner of the Decorah, Iowa Regional. Iowa Conference champ Luther College (39-3), one of three league schools in the elite field, plays host to a regional with St. Scholastica (Minn.) (24-15), St. Catherine (Minn.) (32-11) and the University of Chicago (25-12).
The eight super regional champs move on to the national finals May 25-30 at Oklahoma City, Okla.
Ticket prices for this weekend’s regional are $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for students and children under 12 and free for children under 2. An all-session pass is $15. Tickets will be available at the gate.
A video webcast and live stats for all tournament games will be available through the Central athletics website at athletics.central.edu or directly at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/central/. Central’s games will also be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1) and via www.kniakrls.com with the voice of the Dutch, Trevor Castle.
2017 NCAA Division III Softball Championships
Pella, Iowa Regional
Friday, May 12
Game 1 1 p.m. Washington-St. Louis (Mo.) (26-12) vs. Coe (29-9)
Game 2 3:30 p.m. St. Thomas (Minn.) (34-9) vs. Central (32-8)
Saturday, May 13
Game 3 11 a.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Game 4 1:30 p.m. Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 5 4 p.m. Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
Sunday, May 14
Game 6 1 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7 3:30 p.m. Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary)