Amherst Earns First NCAA Berth
Allison Schwarting Named NESCAC Player of the Week

AMHERST, Massachusetts -- Amherst College softball earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid as the No. 5 seed in the New England Region. In only their fourth season as a varsity program, this is the second post-season appearance by the squad after debuting in the ECAC Tournament last year. Sophomore Allison Schwarting (Los Angeles, CA) also earned her second Player of the Week citation of the 1998 season from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) for outstanding performances as a pitcher and centerfielder.

Concluding the regular season with a sweep of archrival Williams College, Amherst notched a 28-6 record and headed into the post-season as the Little III Champions. The Jeffs boasted the longest win-streak of the program with 13 straight Ws late in the season, including a doubleheader sweep of Smith and a first-round victory over Tufts in the Jumbo Invitational. Amherst has faced three teams in the New England bracket, and the Jeffs are 3-3 against the field. "Good or bad, we know what we're up against," noted Head Coach Don Faulstick, who has led the Jeffs to both post-season appearances.

Leading the Jeffs both on the mound and at the plate is Schwarting, who was named All-ECAC Second Team, All-NESCAC and NESCAC Player of the Week three-times as a rookie. The sophomore boasts a .443 batting average and a 1.54 ERA to place her in the top-four in the NESCAC in both categories. Upping her season record to 16-4 with a pair of wins over the week, Schwarting struck out five in a 7-6 victory over Williams while going 4-for-7 at the plate, scoring two runs and stealing her 23rd base of the season.

Senior co-captain Jen Shea (Hatfield, MA) has also been solid for Amherst with a 12-2 record and a 2.00 ERA. Outfielders Vicki Gonzalez (Miami, FL), co-captain Sarah Rinaldi (Washington, DC) and Melissa Roja (Los Altos Hills, CA) are a batting and base-running threat, combining for a .360 average and 54 of the Jeffs' 97 stolen bases this season. Amherst is currently hitting .319 as a team while holding opponents to a .183 showing at the plate.

"As the No. 5 team," commented Faulstick, "everybody's probably looking right by us. We'd like to surprise them. We're not just happy to be alive, because we know we can play with these people. We just have to prove it, and if we play well, we will win."

The Division III NCAA Regional employs a double-elimination format for the five participating teams. All games will be played at Alumni Park on the campus of top-seeded Bridgewater State College (32-9) in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The Regional is scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 7 with the fourth meeting of the season between NESCAC rivals Amherst and fourth-ranked Tufts (24-10). Games will run through Saturday, May 9, or Sunday, May 10 in case of rain. Game pairings and times are listed below.

NCAA Division III Softball Championship - New England Regional

Thursday, May 7, 1998
Game 1: 11am	No. 4 Tufts (24-10) v. No. 5 Amherst (28-6)
Game 2: 1pm	No. 2 Smith (26-11) v. No. 3 Wheaton (37-10)
Game 3: 3pm	No. 1 Bridgewater (32-9) v. Winner Game 1
Friday, May 8, 1998	
Game 4: 11am	Loser Game 1 v. Loser Game 2
Game 5: 1pm	Winner Game 2 v. Winner Game 3
Game 6: 3pm	Winner Game 4 v. Loser Game 3
Saturday, May 9, 1998
Game 7: 11am	Loser Game 5 v. Winner Game 6
Game 8: 1pm	Winner Game 5 v. Winner Game 7
Game 9: 3pm	necessary only if Winner Game 7 defeats Winner Game 5 in Game 8

#          #           #