By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Division III NCAA Softball Tournament will begin this weekend and for the first time in program history, Widener University will be taking part.

The Pride will open play in their regional on Friday afternoon, taking on SUNY Cortland.

Widener earned this tournament berth by winning its first-ever MAC Commonwealth Championship. The Pride clinched the title on Sunday with a 4-3 win over Lebanon Valley College.

“There was a little bit of lag time for a second on Sunday afternoon . . and then it hit (that they had won the conference),” Widener head coach Fred Dohrmann tells KYW Newsradio. “We’d played well all weekend. We had played exceptionally well all weekend. That final third out was just really exciting.”

Listen to the entire interview with Widener’s Fred Dohrmann:

 

Widener brings a 26-11 record into the NCAA Tournament. Dohrmann says his group was ready to breakthrough this year.

“We have six seniors on our team and we finished runner-up (in the MAC Commonwealth) the past two years and we were due,” Dohrmann says. “Even though we got off to a little rocky start (to the regular season) in Florida, going 2-4, never was a doubt that we would not continue to play well.”

Dohrmann says that while this is a special time for the program, it is important for everyone to realize that there is still work to do.

“It’s a new adventure for me, too, after all these years,” he says. “So we’re all in it together and these young ladies really know how to play ball. They have a great attitude about what they have to do, they understand what they’re coming into and I think they actually want more. So, really looking forward to playing on Friday.”

The tournament opens with regional play as four teams battle in a double-elimination format to move on. Widener and SUNY Cortland will be joined by Messiah and Johnson & Wales.

Widener’s first game is set for 1:00pm on Friday in Cortland, New York.

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