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Eau Claire to Host 2013 NCAA Division III Softball Championship
By: Kevin Meinholz, Sports Information Director
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - UW-Eau Claire and the city of Eau Claire have been selected to host the 2013 NCAA Division III softball championship. The tournament will be played on Carson Park's historic Gelein Field.
Blugold Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon and Visit Eau Claire Sports Sales Manager Michael Strubel were both notified of the selection today by Jan Gentry, the NCAA Assistant Director of Championships. While the championship will be held near the end of May 2013 and will run from Friday to Tuesday, the exact dates will be announced at a later time. A pre-tournament banquet will be held on the Thursday at The Florian Gardens.
The 2013 tournament will be the sixth time Eau Claire has been selected as the host site for the championship. Eau Claire also hosted in 2010, 2002, 2001, 1999 and 1997. The City of Salem, Virginia will host the 2011 and 2012 championships, which was announced in conjunction with Eau Claire's selection. Only Salem has hosted the softball championship more times than Eau Claire (10). The tournament has only been in the Midwest 12 times in the 29-year history of the Division III softball championships.
Simpson College in Iowa won the first two tournaments hosted by Eau Claire in 1997 and 1999. Muskingum College in Ohio won the 2001 championship, Ithaca College in New York won the 2002 championship and in 2010, East Texas Baptist University came away with the title.
Hosting the national tournament does not guarantee a spot in the championship field. In fact, UW-Eau Claire participated only once in the previous five tournaments it hosted, finishing fourth in 1999. The Blugolds have participated in the national tournament four times, winning a national championship in 2008 after placing third in 2007 and fourth in 1999 and 2000. The Blugolds have advanced to NCAA post-season tournament play eight times, also playing in regional competition in 1997, 1998, 2006 and 2009.
This is not the only sport in which UW-Eau Claire has been a national tournament host. The Blugolds hosted the 1984 NAIA men's ice hockey championships, the 1986 NAIA women's gymnastics nationals, the 1994 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship, the 2003 National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) national meet and the 2004 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships. During the 2010-11 season, Eau Claire will once again host the NCGA Championship, March 25-26, 2011 at the McPhee Physical Education Center.