The Women’s College World Series isn’t the only major women’s college softball championship tournament that’s been taking place the last few weeks.
This marked the second year of the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) tournament, which matched 17 college teams who had strong seasons but didn’t make the WCWS.
The 2018 NISC featured eight teams that won 30 games or more during the season and six teams that finished second or better during the regular season in their respective conferences.
Each of the 12 automatic qualifiers were the teams who finished the best regular-season record in their respective conference and did not play in the NCAA Tournament. The five at large selections were selected off their body of work.
Today wrapped up the championship and Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference defeated UC Riverside 5-0 in a game played in the Los Angeles area, home to both of the finalists.
“I’m so pleased to finish this season with a championship!” said LMU Head Coach Sami Strinz-Ward after the win today. “Only two (D1) teams in the country will finish this year with a championship. This was a great postseason experience for our team.”
Hannah Bandimere went the distance for the Lions throwing a one-hit shutout and Alicia Brown powers her second grand slam of the tournament as Loyola Marymount captures the 2018 Postseason NISC championship with a 5-0 win over UC Riverside.
“Hannah was dominant in the circle. To be able to throw a two-hitting against a team, then come back the next day and throw a one-hitter is phenomenal! What a gutsy couple of games for here,” said Sami Strinz-Ward.
A solo home run in the second inning by Delanie Wisz put the Lions on the board. It’s all they needed with Bandimere dealing from the circle, throwing seven shutout innings and not allowing a hit after the first (a Jenna Curtan single).
Brown’s grand slam, her second of the tournament, would come in the sixth inning, increasing LMU’s lead to 5-0. She would finish the game 1-for-2 with four RBI.
“I’m so proud of how Alicia finished her career,” stated Coach Strinz-Ward. “Not only was her last swing a grand slam, but these last two weeks were an amazing way to put her stamp on this program.”
Molly Grumbo, Wisz, Brown and Maddison Flores were named to the All-Tournament team for LMU. Bandimere was announced as the MVP.
Jenae Lockwood, Seanna Garewal, Tayler Misfeldt and Curtan were named to the All-Tournament Team for the Highlanders.
LMU’s journey to the NISC championship started in the Northern Colorado Regional. The Lions went 3-1 in the regional round, defeating Northern Colorado once and South Dakota State twice while losing once to SDSU.
They did not lose a game in the championship round with wins over UT Arlington (10-5), UC Riverside in the semifinals (2-0) and UC Riverside in the championship (5-0).
The 2018 NISC is LMU softball’s first postseason action since 2007 when the program won the PCSC Championship and earned the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The Lions won their first game in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, gaining their first postseason victory as they eliminated the 11-time national champions, UCLA.
First-round regional action began Wednesday, May 16 with regionals held at Northern Colorado, UNLV, Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas.
The 2018 Qualifiers for the NISC:
Austin Peay (Ohio Valley) – At Large
Central Arkansas (Southland) – At Large
Colorado State (Mountain West) – At Large
Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley) – Automatic Qualifier
Loyola Marymount (West Coast Conference) – Automatic Qualifier
Nevada (Mountain West) – Automatic Qualifier
Northern Colorado (Big Sky) – At Large
Stephen F. Austin (Southland) – Automatic Qualifier
South Dakota State (Summit League) – Automatic Qualifier
Texas Tech (Big 12) – Automatic Qualifier
Toledo (Mid-America) – Automatic Qualifier
Towson (Colonial Athletic) – Automatic Qualifier
UC Riverside (Big West) – Automatic Qualifier
UNLV (Mountain West) – At Large
UT Arlington (Sun Belt) – Automatic Qualifier
Utah Valley (WAC) – Automatic Qualifier
Weber State (Big Sky) – Automatic Qualifier