It will be a case of coach versus pupil Thursday when Pfeiffer and Lenoir-Rhyne meet in the first round of the NCAA Division II women’s softball tournament.
Pfeiffer (37-15), the Conference Carolinas champion, and Lenoir-Rhyne (47-11), runner-up in the South Atlantic Conference, are part of the four-team field in the NCAA Southeast Regional at Armstrong State, near Savannah, Ga.
SAC champion Catawba (38-14) is part of the four-team field in the other Southeast Regional, to be played at North Georgia University in Dahlonega, near Atlanta.
Each of the regionals is a double-elimination event, Thursday through Saturday, with winners advancing to the best-of-3 Super Regionals set for May 11-12. The eight Super Regional winners will advance to the national championships May 17-21 in Denver.
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Pfeiffer is coached by Monte Sherrill, who is in his first year with the Falcons but coached high school softball for 28 years. Lenoir-Rhyne coach Shena Hollar, who has been with the Bears for 17 years, played for Sherrill at Alexander Central High.
Their teams met March 8 in Hickory, with Lenoir-Rhyne sweeping a doubleheader 8-3 and 9-6. Since then, Pfeiffer has gone 24-4.
Lenoir-Rhyne, which has reached the NCAA Regionals nine of the past 10 years, is the region’s No. 3 seed and ranked 15th nationally. The Bears are led by Erin Boone, who is hitting .474 with six home runs and 35 RBIs; and pitcher Brandi Parks, who is 11-0 with a 1.18 earned run average.
Pfeiffer, the region’s No. 6 seed, set a school record for victories this season. The Falcons’ leaders are freshman shortstop Vada Sherrill, the coach’s daughter, who is batting .357 and has 51 stolen bases; and junior catcher Rachel Crowder, hitting .361 with eight homers and 41 RBIs.
The other first-round game at Armstrong State pits the hosts (35-12) against USC-Aiken (29-20). Armstrong State is the region’s No. 2 seed and ranked 19th nationally.
Catawba will face Georgia College (39-16) in the first round. Catawba, which has won two straight SAC titles, has been coached for 34 years by Nan Whitley. Top players are pitcher Carley Tysinger, 31-9 with a 0.96 ERA; and Kristen Stinnard, hitting .397 with a 15-for-15 record on stolen bases.
The other first-round game has host North Georgia (50-6), the region’s No. 1 seed and the nation’s No. 5-ranked team, facing Young Harris (32-18).
Southeast Region I schedule
(at Dahlonega, Ga.)
Thursday: No. 4 Catawba (38-14) vs. No. 5 Georgia College (39-16), 4 p.m.; No. 1 North Georgia (50-6) vs. No. 8 Young Harris (32-18), 6:30
Friday: Thursday’s winners meet, noon; Thursday’s losers meet, 2:30; Friday noon loser vs. Friday 2:30 winner, 5.
Saturday: Thursday noon winner vs. Friday 5 p.m. winner, 1 p.m. (second game, if needed, at 3:30 p.m.)
Southeast Region II schedule
(at Armstrong, Ga.)
Thursday: No. 3 Lenoir-Rhyne (47-11) vs. No. 6 Pfeiffer (37-15), 1; No. 2 Armstrong State (35-12) vs. No. 7 USC-Aiken (29-20), 3:30.
Friday: Thursday’s winners meet, 11 a.m.; Thursday’s losers meet, 1:30; Friday 11 a.m. loser vs. Friday 1:30 winner, 4.
Saturday: Thursday 11 a.m. winner vs. Friday 4 p.m. winner, 1 p.m. (second game, if needed, at 3:30 p.m.)