The Virginia Wesleyan softball team won the Division III National Championship for the second consecutive year on May 29 in Oklahoma City. After splitting the first two games of the championship series with Illinois Wesleyan the Marlins earned a 3-1 victory in the winner-take-all championship game.
In this final game of the season sophomore pitcher Hanna Hull tied the DIII record for most wins in a season with 40. The team broke the record for most wins in a season with 55. The seniors were the only seniors in Division III to end their collegiate softball careers with a win.
Senior Amy Large said, “We wanted to prove we really were the top team in the nation and bring a trophy home to Marlin nation. But this year I wanted it even more because it was my last season. It meant so much more this year because us seniors knew we weren’t getting any more do-overs and that this was it.”
Hull collected 23 strikeouts in the three game championship series and she also made some defensive plays on live balls that prevented more runs to score. Her efforts this season earned her the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Madison Glaubke was a force from the plate in Oklahoma City. After coming off of conference play and earning the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Glaubke did not falter at the NCAA tournament. She hit a homerun in the first game of the championship series and then another one in game three which put the Marlins in the lead after being down by one run.
Senior Cassetty Howerin and Hull were both named First Team All-Americans. This is Howerin’s third All-American honors and she showcased in Oklahoma City. She hit a double in the first game of the championship series and then also had the sacrifice fly that scored the run to put the Marlins up 3-1 in game three. Howerin finished the year as the DIII leader in career walks with 136. Despite constantly being walked, she still finished sixth all-time for career RBI’s with 221.
Winning 55 games in a season takes a lot of attention to detail and discipline, but what makes this Marlin softball program so disciplined is their ability to embrace their undisciplined moments. In between innings, the outfielders would normally warm up by throwing, however, Glaubke, junior Beth Ford, and freshman Maria Weddle utilized this time to show off their dance moves. There were numerous occasions when the whole team would dance together too. Howerin said that it is moments like these that helped the team play better because everyone was loose and having fun.
The team returned home to Virginia Wesleyan on May 30 and were greeted by a crowd of students, parents, faculty and even news organizations.
The Marlins will defend their second national championship in the 2018-19 season with a plethora of experienced players returning. Reigning NFCA Player of the Year, Hull will still be on the mound and will throw to rising senior Jessica Lindsay behind the plate. ODAC Player of the Year, Glaubke will return to the outfield. Weddle, Julia Sinnett, Katelyn Biando and Carla Hall are all rising sophomores who got significant playing time and experience and still have three seasons left to play.