Bearcats Ready for NFCA DIII Leadoff Classic

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

(SOFTBALL) SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University softball team is less than two weeks away from competing at the 2007 National Fastpitch Softball Association (NFCA) Division III Leadoff Classic, March 9-11 at Frank Brown Park in Panama City, Fla. Willamette is one of just 24 team from NCAA Division III who have been invited to the event.

Willamette will take on three opponents in pool play. The Bearcats open the tournament against William Paterson University (N.J.) at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 9. Willamette will play its second game at 5 p.m. (EST) on Mar. 9 against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. WU' final game of pool play will be against Central College (Iowa) at 12:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, March 10. The Bearcats will be involved in three contests in bracket play, which begins on Saturday and continues through Sunday, March 11.

The WU softball team opened the season on Friday, Feb. 23 with a 2-0 win over Northwest Christian College. The Bearcats will play four games with Linfield College before heading to Florida for the DIII Leadoff Classic. Willamette and Linfield will play two games in Salem, Ore. on Saturday, March 3 at 12 p.m. (PST), followed by a doubleheader in McMinnville, Ore., on Sunday, March 4 at 12 p.m. (PST).

The DIII Leadoff Classic's list of 24 teams includes defending national champion Rutgers University-Camden and 2006 national runner-up St. Thomas University (Minn.). Sixteen of the teams qualified for the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Willamette and seven other competitive teams complete the tournament field. Willamette is the only team from the Northwest Conference participating in the event.

NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic Information

NCAA Division III Leadoff Classic logo for 2007

NCAA Division III Leadoff Classic logo for 2007