After charging to a UMAC postseason championship as a No. 5 seed over the weekend, Wisconsin-Superior will attempt to run the table again this week in the NCAA tournament as the No. 6 seed in the upcoming NCAA Division III regional softball tournament in Waverly, Iowa.
The Yellowjackets (22-14), who earned an automatic berth to the NCAA regional by winning the UMAC tournament in Duluth last week, will open the double-elimination, six-team regional tournament against top-seeded St. Olaf (24-5) at 10 a.m. Friday. The winner advances to a 10 a.m. game Saturday while the loser plays an elimination game at 4 p.m. Friday.
St. Olaf enters the tournament not only as the region’s top seed, but was ranked No. 19 in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III poll.
Lynes Field on the campus of Wartburg College is the site of the regional. The rest of the bracket features No. 2 St. Thomas (27-8) vs. No. 5 Webster (20-10) at noon Friday and No. 4 Coe (24-13) vs. No. 5. Milwaukee School of Engineering (33-8) at 2 p.m.
This is the Yellowjackets fourth NCAA tournament appearance having also qualified in 2016 out of the UMAC and in 2002 and 2004 as a member of the WIAC. Under first-year head coach Melissa Fracker, the program won 20-plus games for the first time since 2016 and for just the 12th time in 34 seasons.
All-UMAC honorees announced
The NCAA-tournament bound Yellowjackets landed four players on the 2021 All-UMAC softball teams, led by freshman pitcher Tayler Kraemer earning a first-team nod and spot on the league’s all-defensive squad. Junior Olivia Brancroft-Hart and sophomores Tiffany Kirk and Kaela Kraemer were named honorable mentions.
Tayler Kraemer — Kaela’s younger sister — was named UMAC tournament MVP last weekend after going 5-1 on the mound with a 1.25 ERA over 44.2 inning with 33 strikeouts. She pitched five complete games.
St. Scholastica — which won the UMAC regular season title, but went 0-2 at home in the UMAC tourney — swept the top awards. Junior Olivia Howe was named UMAC Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. Her teammate, freshman Grace Hadlich, was named UMAC Rookie of the Year and the Saints’ Rilee Dawson was voted UMAC Coach of the Year.
Howe, Hadlich, sophomore Haley Rosenthal, senior Nicole Anders, freshman Aislind Dail and senior Toni Bishop landed on the All-UMAC first team. Howe and Anders were also voted to the all-defensive team along with senior Josie Fourre.
St. Scholastica matched a program-high with four players named to the All-Midwest Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Friday. Howe and Dail were named to the First Team, Hadlich made the Second Team and Rosenthal was named to the Third Team.