For the first time in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association history, four teams will represent the conference in the NCAA Division III Softball Championships, the national office announced Monday. Along with automatic qualifier Hope, Saint Mary's, Calvin, and Trine made the 2018 tournament field. Hope and first-time tournament qualifier Saint Mary's also earned the right to host Regional play.
Hope will host MIAA foe Calvin, first-round opponent Greenville, and Franklin; Calvin will face Franklin in the first round at Hope's Wolters Stadium. Saint Mary's will host first-round opponent Mount Aloysius along with Case Western Reserve and Ohio Northern. Trine will travel to UW-Whitewater to face Coe (Iowa) in the first round Friday, May 11, with Benedictine rounding out the four-team pod.
Hope (29-9) makes their eighth NCAA posteason appearance and third in four seasons; last year, Hope was knocked out of the Regional Final by MIAA foe Trine. Hope's regional will begin play Thursday, May 10.
Saint Mary's (35-5) makes their NCAA Championship debut after a season that featured winning the MIAA Title with a 15-1 record.
Calvin (30-8) makes their first NCAA Softball Championship appearance since 1998 after earning an at-large berth. The Knights tied a program record for wins in a season; of note, Calvin is 4-1 this season against teams in their regional.
Trine (25-11) did not make the four-team MIAA tournament, but the team's strength of schedule throughout the season granted the Thunder an at-large berth. Trine defeated their opening game opponent Coe 16-2 earlier this year. Last season, the Thunder advanced to the eight-team National Championship after defeating UW-Oshkosh in the Super Regional round.
The finals, hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association, will be held May 24-29 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All rounds will use a double-elimination format.