|Meaghan Dowdell||Jennifer Sweeney||Megan Zinn|
The University of Scranton softball program will do something on Friday afternoon they have not done in 36 years - play in an NCAA Division III Tournament game.
At 4:30 p.m. Friday, the Royals (32-16 overall) will take on top-ranked and two-time defending NCAA Division III National Champion Virginia Wesleyan in the second game of the afternoon in a Regional pod hosted by the Marlins in Virginia Beach, Va. Also playing at VWU will be 15th-ranked Manhattanville (40-2) and Lynchburg (32-12), who will kick off play for the weekend at 2 p.m. Friday.
To view the rest of the weekend's schedule in Virginia Beach, click here. Also, for those not making the trip South to follow the Royals, Virginia Wesleyan will be providing both live stats HERE and a live video stream HERE of Friday's game.
Scranton punched their ticket to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since 1983 thanks to a whirlwind weekend at the Landmark Conference Championships last week that saw the team win three games in one day to capture their first Landmark title and first conference championship of any kind since 1991.
On the weekend, sophomore Meaghan Dowdell (Parlin, N.J./Old Bridge) earned MVP honors after winning back-to-back games in the Championship Series against Susquehanna in the pitching circle, tossing a pair of complete games in 5-2 and 7-2 victories for the Royals. With the wins, Dowdell bumped up her record to 18-5 on the year.
Elsewhere, sophomore Jennifer Sweeney (Wind Gap, Pa./Dumony) beat then 10th-ranked Moravian twice on the weekend in the pitching circle to knock out the host Greyhounds, while at the plate she went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBI in the championships clinching the win for Scranton. For the year, Sweeney is 14-7 in the pitching circle, with a 2.55 ERA and 109 strikeouts, while at the dish she has smacked eight home runs and added 46 RBI, which is a Landmark Conference high.
Junior Megan Zinn (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan), meanwhile, enters the postseason on a tear, as she completed one of the best offensive seasons in program history in 2019. Ending the year breaking both the school and conference record for hits in a season with 71 and the school record for doubles with 22 (which is the third highest mark in the country), Zinn has notched 43 RBI and is batting .471 entering the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia Wesleyan, meanwhile, comes into the NCAA Tournament as the Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions after posting a 40-3 mark in the regular year and maintaining a number one ranking throughout the majority of the season.
The Marlins are led by pitcher Hanna Hull, who earned ODAC Pitcher of the Year accolades for the third straight year last week after leading the country in total victories (27) and hits allowed per seven innings (2.41), second for ERA (0.42) and total strikeouts (282) and third for total shutouts (9). Hull, who is 27-2 with four saves on the year, has also thrown four no-hitters throughout the season and climbed into double digits in strikeouts in 15 games.