NCAA Division II Softball Championship Recap: Rogers State Rolls

NCAA Division II Softball Championship Recap: Rogers State Rolls

Rogers State took home the title after a stellar run, marking a historic occasion for the program as it prevailed over several D-II softball powers.

Jun 1, 2022 by Briar Napier
NCAA Division II Softball Championship Recap: Rogers State Rolls

As softball filled the crisp, thin mountain air of Denver as part of the Division II Softball Championship over the past few days, there was only going to be one school that could leave the Mile High City with a sparkling-new national title trophy.

And after a host of underdogs and lower seeds stole the show throughout the tournament, one has been found.

Rogers State took home the title after a stellar run, marking a historic occasion for the program as it prevailed over several D-II softball powers to bring home the gold. It took some equally stellar performances to get there, too—and those on the roster will immediately be figures of future Hillcats folklore.

Here’s a look at and recap of games past throughout the tournament as Rogers State performed its fabulous feat.

For Rogers State, Magic May Ends With History

The dream run for the school of about 4,300 students out of Claremore, Oklahoma ended in glory as the Hillcats (58-10) closed the book on a historic season with an even better final few weeks. The program went 11-1 in the NCAA Tournament—and, crucially, unbeaten in Denver—as RSU clinched its first national softball title with a sweep of Cal State Dominguez Hills in the title-deciding series. 

Seventh-year coach and Claremore-born Andrea Vaughan could have plenty of potential suitors calling her this summer as she’s helped take the program from a 17-35 season in her first year in 2016 to the top team in America this season. 

Needing to win twice against Minnesota State to escape out of a regional they hosted, the Hillcats pulled the feat off and never lost again, winning Game 1 of the championship series 6-5 on Monday—via a Callie Yellin walkoff homer. Then, clinching it outright with a 6-1 win over the Toros the next day. 

NFCA First Team All-American Andrea Morales (38-4, 1.20 ERA, 348 strikeouts) led the country in wins as the Hillcats’ star, being part of a stellar rotation that finished with merely a 1.42 team ERA for the whole year. Rogers State was by no means a one-trick pony, with four players in the lineup tallying at least 10 home runs and 30 RBI—such as stellar freshman catcher Abbey Rogers, who led the team in both categories.

Tournament Of The Underdogs

For longtime D-II softball fans, Rogers State and Cal State Dominguez Hills made for two historically unfamiliar names battling for the division’s highest honor, with neither team having made it to that point previously in program history. In fact, neither school even won their separate regular-season league titles, with the Toros in particular finishing fourth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and only qualifying for the NCAA Tournament via an at-large bid. 

But where the likes of UT Tyler, Adelphi and Auburn-Montgomery fell—the top three seeds entering the D-II Softball Championship rounds—others rose in their place. Rogers State won the whole thing as a No. 5 seed, while Cal State Dominguez Hills’ run was especially stunning as an eighth seed needing to beat top-seeded UT Tyler, Seton Hill and North Georgia (twice) just to have a chance to play in the championship series. 

But even though the Toros came up narrowly short, there was still plenty of memories to be made: junior Raquel Jaime broke the record for most hits in a single D-II Softball Championship with 16. CSDH shattered the program’s ceiling for success in the meantime, having never even won an NCAA Regional title before this season. With just three seniors graduating, the future is bright for a Toros team that’ll enter its 16th season under coach Jim Maier next year.

Who’s Up Next?

Picking which teams are the possible favorites to win the 2023 title is a tall order. No D-II softball team has repeated as champion since California (Pa.) did it in 1998 and 1999, and a different champion has also been crowned in each of the past seven tournaments. 

West Texas A&M is usually a decent pick to do well, having won the 2021 title seven years after clinching its first crown in 2014. But, the Lady Buffs had a bit of a setback this season as they both missed the NCAA Tournament and stepped aside for UT Tyler to run through the Lone Star Conference all season as one of Division II’s top teams. 

Speaking of the Patriots, they’ll be looking for more after their 49-9 season ended unceremoniously in Denver, with sophomore utility and All-Tournament team member Courtney Plocheck (.420 average, 62 runs) possessing the potential to be one of the country’s top returners next season. 

And what about the newly-crowned national champions? Rogers State will need to fill a massive gap on the mound that’ll be left behind by Morales’ departure after she used her COVID year of eligibility this season. Abbey Rogers looks primed to smash some records if her current pace continues, the Hillcats should continue to be dangerous as long as Vaughan continues to stick around and lead the program.