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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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NCAA Preview
softball prepares for next test
on the diamond

It’s been a hectic week for the members of the Muhlenberg softball team. Not that any week during the spring season is not frenetic, but this one has been especially busy.

With their first NCAA Tournament game scheduled for the Thursday of finals week, the Mules had to scramble to complete all of their academic obligations before leaving campus. Some had to reschedule their finals for earlier in the week and deal with the stresses of taking multiple tests on the same day. Others had to finish their final papers two days before originally expected.
Mules Softball
Muhlenberg is 10-16 in eight previous NCAA Tournament appearances.

But by the time Wednesday evening rolls around, the academic year will be complete and the players will be on the bus bound for Ithaca, N.Y., with their full attention focused on the next task at hand, taking on No. 13 Messiah.

Follow the NCAA Games

To follow all of Muhlenberg’s NCAA games from Ithaca, click on the following links:

streaming audio and video (starting 10 minutes prior to first pitch)
live stats

The eighth-seeded Mules (25-15) and top-seeded Falcons (35-5) will square off in the first game of the NCAA Tournament at 10 a.m. Thursday at Ithaca College. The winner of that game will advance to play the winner of the game between fourth-seeded Western Connecticut (28-12-1) and fifth-seeded St. John Fisher (27-12) on Friday at 2:30, while the losers play Friday at 10:00 in an elimination game.

Keuka, Centenary and regionally ranked Ithaca and Middlebury round out the eight-team Ithaca bracket.

It is Muhlenberg’s second trip to the tournament in the last three seasons, and according to senior Ashley Brewer, after having been through this experience once, the team’s mindset is entirely different from 2009.

“This time I have a higher expectation going in just because we were there, and a lot of us know what to expect this time,” Brewer said. “So our goal this time isn’t just to go and play; we expect to win and definitely compete in this tournament.
Brittany Blohm
Junior Brittany Blohm, who drove in the game-winner to clinch the CC Championship, hit a two-run homer during Muhlenberg’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament.

“Last time we all freaked ourselves out and tried to do way too much; this time we need to just relax. We know Messiah is very good, but we’ve seen who they played. And we’ve played a bunch of those same teams and have done well against them as well.”

Messiah, the 2009 national champion, ranks in the top 25 in the country in both earned run average (8th, 1.35) and batting average (25th, .347). The Falcons played three Centennial Conference opponents this season — Gettysburg, Dickinson and McDaniel. And while they went 6-0 in those games, the Falcons trailed Dickinson heading into the seventh inning of one game and were tied with Gettysburg in the sixth of another.

The Mules, meanwhile, went 3-3 against the Bullets and Red Devils this season. But those losses came during a stretch in which Muhlenberg lost five of six games.

Brewer said that the team has improved greatly since then, which is why the Mules are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, including a 3-0 sweep through the CC Tournament.

A big reason for that success has been Brewer’s performance in the circle. She has compiled a 1.75 earned run average and gone 4-0 in her last four starts, including two straight one-run wins. She pitched every inning during the CC Championship run and is prepared to do the same, if necessary, this weekend to help the Mules grab their first NCAA win since 2003.

“We’ve been working towards this point all season,” Brewer said. “We had some rough patches during the year when we knew we were capable of doing better. But I think now everyone believes that we are capable of playing at a really high level, and we are peaking at the right time.

“I’ve been looking forward to this challenge for four years, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Click here for the tournament Web site.

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