2024 THE Spring Games Main Event15

THE Spring Games Division III Preview: What To Know

THE Spring Games Division III Preview: What To Know

Nowhere else is there as big of a spotlight on so many Division III softball teams across the sport’s calendar as THE Spring Games in Florida.

Feb 21, 2024 by Briar Napier
THE Spring Games Division III Preview: What To Know

Plenty of Division I & II teams will be taking part in THE Spring Games once the matchups get going this month, the contingent of Division III teams participating—183 of them, in fact—is massive.

Nowhere else is there as big of a spotlight on so many Division III softball teams across the sport’s calendar, and there are plenty of entertaining players and squads worth checking out when it’s their time to shine in Florida.

Here’s all you need to know about the Division III field participating in THE Spring Games.

Teams To Watch

Trine

The main attraction in the Division III field at THE Spring Games, Trine is the unanimously top-ranked team in the NFCA Division III Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll. They're also reigning national champions, with the Thunder capturing the first title in program history a season ago, thanks to a program-record 46 wins. 

The early favorite to be the first team to repeat at the Division III level since Virginia Wesleyan during the 2017-2018 season, Trine’s pitching staff allowed a minuscule 1.28 ERA over the course of the year, while its offense scored 7.04 runs per game. Both marks ranked in the top 10 in Division III. 

The Thunder will play eight games in THE Spring Games, including a top-25 showdown against Lebanon Valley, and they’ll be looking to utilize their travel to the Sunshine State as a springboard for a third consecutive trip to the championship round of the Division III Softball Championship. 

Rowan

The highest-ranked team behind Trine in THE Spring Games’ Division III field is No. 5 Rowan, which also made the championship round of the Division III tournament in 2023 and defeated Trine in its opening game there, only for the Profs to lose out the rest of the way and fall short. 

Still, NFCA Hall of Fame coach Kim Wilson has been around plenty of strong teams in her 28 years at Rowan, and as one of the winningest coaches at the Division III level, her program almost always is a force. 

Leading hitter Liz McCaffery (.361 average) and ace pitcher Rylee Lutz (24-7 overall, 1.86 ERA, 186 strikeouts last season) are back in the fold for the Profs, who should help celebrate Wilson’s 900th career win this year—and, who knows, maybe a first national title.

Players To Watch

Debbie Hill, Trine

For Debbie Hill to put up numbers like she did last season at any point in her college career would be ridiculous, but to put them up as a freshman, while leading her school to a national championship? That’s pretty much unheard of in college softball. 

Hill had a rookie season for the ages at Trine, erupting into a two-way superstar and NFCA first-team All-American by slashing .446/.583/.935 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 52 games, followed by a 13-5 record on the mound with a 1.51 ERA and 128 strikeouts to just 17 walks in 97 1/3 innings. 

With so much off-the-charts production and eligibility remaining, Hill probably would’ve had her share of suitors at higher levels, had she decided to enter the transfer portal in the offseason. Instead, the lefty opted to stay with the Thunder and try to grow her legendary status there by being the driver of a push for back-to-back national titles.

Kayla Simacek, Bethel

The Division III strikeout queen last season by almost 100, Kayla Simacek was second across all levels of the NCAA in punchouts, as she had a career-high 355. It was her second straight season with at least 300 Ks. 

The right-hander and reigning TUCCI/NFCA Division III Pitcher of the Year has been absolutely spectacular in the circle for the Royals for years now—consecutive 30-win seasons and a career ERA of just 1.47 have solidified Simacek as the nation’s most feared ace, and eye-popping numbers of 84 complete games and 32 shutouts only further drive the point home. 

No. 11 Bethel will get 10 games in Florida at THE Spring Games—most notably a showdown against Rowan—meaning there should be plenty of opportunity during the event to watch Simacek go to work.

What Division III Teams Are Playing In THE Spring Games?

See the full list of Division III teams here. 

Matchups To Watch

All times Eastern

March 3

  • Hiram vs. Husson, 11:30 a.m.

March 9

  • Trine vs. Lebanon Valley, 11:15 a.m. 
  • Rowan vs. Bethel, 4:15 p.m. 

March 10

  • Rochester vs. Wisconsin Lutheran, 12:30 p.m. 

March 12

  • Case Western Reserve vs. Swarthmore, 9 a.m.

How To Watch THE Spring Games

Watch THE Spring Games Opening Main Event on FloSoftball and the FloSports app.

FloSoftball also will be streaming several NCAA Division I college softball tournaments, including the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic and the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge

THE Spring Games Schedule

See the full schedule for the 2024 THE Spring Games.