Bulldogs seeded 7th at NJCAA Tourney
PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast enters the NJCAA Division II Softball Championship as the seventh seed in the 16-team field, the national organization announced Thursday afternoon.
The Bulldogs are matched up against Triton, which won the Region 4 championship in Freeport, Illinois. They will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“I was hoping for a little higher seed than a seven, but seven puts us on the side of the bracket that we can win some games,” Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. “We’ve just got to focus and take it one game at a time.”
Gulf Coast will be making its first national tournament appearance since 2015.
It’s the fifth overall, including 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Long has been at the helm for all but the first of those, and the Bulldogs will be looking to improve on the 2-2 performance in all those trips outside the 2010 tournament where the Bulldogs went 3-2.
Triton College is located in River Grove, Illinois. The Trojans (53-8) are making their first trip to the national tournament since 1988.
“We need to win that first game, be ready to play,” Long said. “I don’t know much about that first team, but we’re looking at some stats.”
The Trojans are led in the circle by Alyssa Stramaglia, who is 20-3 with a 1.54 ERA. She struck out 195 batters in 145 innings.
Katlyn Cherry is batting .538 with 13 home runs and 75 RBI, and Celeste Boshold leads the team with 20 home runs and 91 RBI, second-most in the country. Five regulars are batting .442 or better.
The tournament is being played at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala. There are daily passes for $12 with a tournament pass for $35. Children 12 and under are free, and parking is $5.
All games will be streamed exclusively on the NJCAA Network at http://njcaa.org/network. Day passes cost $10, with a tournament pass available for $25. The championship game will be streamed for $5.
The Bulldogs have gone 2-2 in all but one of their appearances. The 2010 team went 3-2 and finished fifth. In 2009, Gulf Coast’s Meghan Colvin won Most Valuable Offensive Player at the tournament.
If Gulf Coast gets past Triton, a familiar foe is likely to be waiting. Second-seeded Jones plays Delaware Tech in its opener, and the two Region 23 foes could see each other on Tuesday.
“I like how we ended up the region tournament, how we played throughout,” Long said. “We played some good softball. I think we’re peaking at a good time. I’m glad to get to go to this tournament and show what we’ve got.”
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