Trojans Eyeing Trip to NAIA Opening Round
UPLAND, Ind. – For the third time in program history, Taylor Softball will play in the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament.
RV Taylor will travel to Medford, Oregon to compete against No. 4 Southern Oregon, No. 12 Hope International and RV Marymount California. The double-elimination tournament will begin May 13 and will continue through May 15 with the winner of the four-team bracket advancing to the NAIA World Series in Springfield, Missouri on May 23 through May 29.
Taylor has an overall record of 2-4 in the NAIA Opening Round. The Trojans appeared in 2014 and 2017. Andi Stewart, Abby Smith, Courtney Moriarty, Erin Cozad, Paige Wilson, Hannah Castor, Olivia Hostetler, Taylor Wilson and Jen Morgan were on the 2017 team that made it to the Opening Round.
Cozad and Moriarty were two key performers in the Trojans’ 2017 appearance. Cozad had a home run against Lindsey Wilson and Moriarty tallied a double against Lindsey Wilson and Madonna. The Trojans fell on day one against the bracket champion, Corban, 11-7 in nine innings. TU was able to defeat Lindsey Wilson in the losers’ bracket, 3-2, before falling to Madonna, 9-0 in Kentucky.
In 2014, the Trojans went to Georgia to compete in their first NAIA Opening Round tournament in program history. Taylor was defeated by Biola in the first day, 4-0. The Purple and Gold would bounce back and defeat Georgetown, 3-2 in eight innings. TU would play Biola again to move on in the tournament and lost, 4-1.
In the first round of the tournament, the Trojans will take on Hope International. This will be the first time since 2008 that the teams will compete against each other. HIU is the only team in the bracket that Taylor has played before. The Royals defeated TU, 6-3, in the first game of the 2008 campaign. Taylor and Hope International will begin their NAIA Championship run on May 15, with first pitch at 2:00 pm EST.
Southern Oregon and Marymount California will play at 4:30 pm. The winners from both games will play on Tuesday at 2:00 pm and the losers will play at 4:30 pm. The championship game will be held on May 15 at 2:00 pm with the if-needed game set for 4:30 pm.
The number one seed is Southern Oregon University. The Raiders who hold a 45-7 record, will serve as hosts for the Opening Round. SOU punched its ticket by winning the Cascade College Conference regular season and postseason titles. Southern Oregon is the only team in the four-team bracket to make an appearance in the NAIA World Series. The home field advantage will play a big factor for the host team, as they boast a 22-1 home record. Southern Oregon is no stranger in playing against some of the top teams in the nation, winning 14 out of 16 games against Top-20 opponents this season. This is the Raiders fourth consecutive and fourth overall appearance in the NAIA Tournament. The team holds a .369 batting average, which is the ninth best in the nation. In the NAIA, Southern Oregon ranks third in triples with 28 and total hits with 555, fifth in runs scored with 385 and sixth in runs batted in with 341.
The 44-12, Hope International Royals are the number two seed. Hope International earned its second consecutive and second overall trip to the NAIA Opening Round. Much like Taylor and Marymount California, the Royals are looking for their first trip to the NAIA World Series. HIU earned its bid by winning the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, after going 18-6 in conference play during the regular season. Out of 13 games against Top-25 teams, the Royals have won eight of those contests. Hope International ranks fifth in the NAIA with a .970 fielding percentage, eighth in hits with 519 and ninth in total putouts with 1,099. The Royals hold a 12-5 away record and a 5-3 record on neutral fields.
The Taylor Trojans went 35-15 in the regular season and are the number three seed in the NAIA Opening Round. Taylor earned its NAIA bid for first year head coach, Erin Kotlarz, after easing past the first two rounds in the CL Tournament that was eventually canceled due to inclement weather. This is Taylor’s first bid since 2017. Taylor picked up two wins over Top-25 teams this season and is led by Jessica Doctor and Moriarty who earned All-CL honors. Doctor has a 2.39 earned run average this season and Moriarty leads the team with 59 hits. The Trojans rank tenth in the nation with a .968 fielding percentage. The Purple and Gold outscored their opponents, 268-149 after tallying a .314 batting average. Taylor has 44 home runs this year, more than any other team in the bracket.
Marymount California went 34-14 this season and are the number four seed in the tournament. The Mariners were the California Pacific Conference champions, which helped the team get to its current win streak of seven games. MCU fell three out of four times to Top-25 opponents this season. Marymount California holds a .324 batting average and has scored 288 runs and they tend to strike fast, outscoring their opponents 75-20 in the first inning. MCU ranks second in the nation in stolen bases with a mark of 149.
For fans wanting to watch, the Opening Round is pay-per-view and will cost $6 per game. Viewers can also buy the Tournament Pass which is $15 for the whole tournament.
Team vs. Team Overall Records:
Southern Oregon vs. Hope International: 7-2
Southern Oregon vs. Taylor: 0-0
Southern Oregon vs. Marymount California: 1-0
Marymount California vs. Hope International: 10-3
Hope International vs. Taylor: 1-0
Marymount California vs. Taylor: 0-0