NACC PREVIEW: Softball Set For Second Straight Tourney Appearance

NACC PREVIEW: Softball Set For Second Straight Tourney Appearance

MILWAUKEE (WLCSports.com) – Sixth-seeded Wisconsin Lutheran College (21-15, 11-11 NACC) will face third-seeded Aurora (26-14, 16-6 NACC) in the first game of the 2019 NACC Softball Tournament Thursday, May 2 at 12:00 p.m. at Spartan Athletic Park in Montgomery, Illinois. The winner of game one will face second-seeded MSOE at 4:00 p.m., while the loser will face either fourth-seeded Marian or fifth-seeded Dominican Friday at 1:00 p.m.

LIVE COVERAGE: Host Aurora will provide live stats and video coverage for every game of the 2019 NACC Tournament. All links are accessible at WLCSports.com.

WISCONSIN LUTHERAN'S ROAD TO THE TOURNAMENT: The Warriors, who began the season 9-1 after a 7-1 mark on their spring break trip, opened conference play with four straight losses to Dominican and MSOE. WLC rattled off seven straight NACC wins to improve to 7-4, before suffering seven consecutive defeats. Sitting at 7-11 in NACC play with just four games remaining, Wisconsin Lutheran defeated Lakeland to improve to 9-11. The Warriors evened their record at 11-11 following a Senior Day sweep over Concordia Chicago to secure to the conference's sixth and final tournament seed. WLC is making its fifth appearance in the NACC Tournament and is 1-8 all-time in tourney games.

WARRIORS UPDATE: Gracie Wilson (Deerfield, Wis.) and Karah Ritacco (Chicago, Ill.) are tied for the team lead with 41 hits apiece, while Abby Mahsem (South Milwaukee, Wis.) follows closely behind with 40. Mahsem boasts a team-best .367 batting average and a .569 slugging percentage with three home runs and 20 RBI. Ritacco has driven in a team-high 23 runs, while Wilson has posted a team-high .427 on-base percentage with 12 walks and 16 stolen bases.

Mahsem, the reigning NACC Pitcher of the Year, is 12-10 in the circle with complete games in all 19 of her starts. She leads the NACC with a 1.73 earned run average and 132 strikeouts, allowing just 35 runs over 142 innings. Jessie Rago (Elgin, Ill.) has posted an 8-5 record on the rubber with a 3.06 ERA over 80 innings with nine complete games.

HEAD COACH BILL CURTIS: Bill Curtis is in his eighth season as head coach of the Wisconsin Lutheran College softball team. He owns a 145-169 overall collegiate coaching record and an 81-99 record in NACC games. The 2014 NACC Co-Coach of the Year has mentored 11 different players to various all-conference honors, including 2018 Pitcher of the Year, Abby Mahsem, and 2014 Position Player of the Year, Brittney Blazich.

AURORA'S ROAD TO THE TOURNAMENT: The Spartans earned the third seed in the NACC Tournament after posting a 26-14 overall record and a 16-6 mark in NACC play. After opening conference play at 6-5, Aurora ran off 11 straight wins, including nine consecutive NACC victories. AU swept the season series against the Warriors on April 22, winning 2-0 in the opener and 6-3 in the second game of the day. The Spartans are making their 13th NACC Tournament appearance and are 28-16 all-time in tournament games. Aurora won tournament titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2015.

SPARTANS UPDATE: Offensively, the Spartans are led by senior Elaine Walker, who leads the NACC with 72 hits and nine home runs. Walker boasts a .503 batting average and has driven in a NACC-best 42 runs. Sam Owens is second on the team with 47 hits, batting .376 on the year with three home runs and 28 RBI.

In the circle, Aurora is led by the tandem of Hannah Tomasko and Stephanie Renner. Tomasko posted a 14-3 regular season record with a 2.01 earned run average in 11 complete games, including six shutouts. Renner has recorded a 12-10 record, a 2.77 earned run average, with 17 complete games and four shutouts.

HEAD COACH MIKE MCKENZIE: Mike McKenzie is in his 16th season as head coach of the Aurora Spartans. He has compiled an overall collegiate coaching record of 525-180-2 with a 297-47 record in conference play. The Spartans have won 30+ games 10 times under McKenzie and have captured seven NACC championships and four NACC Tournament titles. McKenzie has been named NACC Coach of the Year six times.

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