SALEM, Va. – The West Virginia Wesleyan softball had a busy Wednesday with a variety of events prior to actual play in the NCAA Division II World Series.
The team attended a barbecue lunch, visited kindergarten students at a local elementary school for a community engagement activity and capped off the day with a dinner banquet.
With all the pleasantries now in their rearview mirror, the Lady Bobcats can focus on what they came to Salem for and that is to bring home a national championship.
First up for the Lady Bobcats will be the East Regional champions – Molloy College. The game was originally set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. but the weather has pushed the game back to Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
"This is going to be a great experience for our players and our institution," remarked head coach Steve Warner. "We are excited and ready to play. It is a dream come true for the team."
Molloy enters the game with a 37-16 record and a five game winning streak.
They are led in the circle by senior Chelsea Hawks.
Hawks is expected to get the start in game one.
She is 20-11 on the season with an earned-run-average of 1.70. She has pitched 222.2 innings and struck out 238 batters.
Wesleyan, 49-8 overall, will counter with junior pitcher Hannah Vet.
Vet was recently named to the NFCA Division II All-American Second Team.
She currently has a 26-4 record with one save. She has an earned-run-average of 0.89 in 196 innings pitched. She has the second lowest ERA in the nation.
At the plate, Molloy is led by fifth-year senior and designated player Milan Botte.
Botte leads the team in hitting with a .386 average. She also leads the team in home runs with four.
Wesleyan is led at the plate by senior outfielder Tori Pogue.
Pogue, who was recently selected as a NFCA Third Team All-American, leads the Lady Bobcats in hitting with a .424 average.
She led the Mountain East Conference in batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases.
"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing Malloy in our opener," stated Warner. "I don't think it really matters who the opponent is though, we will be ready. We are treating this like any other game. Same rituals, same everything. We aren't changing a thing."
The Mountain East Conference will co-host the World Series at Salem's James Moyer Complex.
Wesleyan has previous experience at the location after playing the MEC Tournament there as well as hosting an earlier tournament in March.
"We are certainly familiar with the location and the complex," remarked Warner. "It's only a four-hour drive. I wouldn't say we have any home field advantage, but I think we will have a nice fan base here with it being so close."
After several near misses in past Super Regionals, this will be Wesleyan's first experience in the NCAA Division II World Series.
"This team has done something that no other team has accomplished," said Warner, who has 998 victories heading into the World Series. "I thank them for that. This is a special group of kids and I will never forget them."
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