Sportswrap: Softball advances to first Women's College World Series, baseball wins ACC tournament

Duke softball after defeating Missouri in the Super Regionals.
Duke softball after defeating Missouri in the Super Regionals.

Sportswrap is your one-stop shop for everything Duke athletics, where we’ll recap how each of Duke’s sports currently in competition performed over the last week and give a brief look ahead. Here’s our recap for the end of May and Memorial Day weekend:


It was a historic week for the Blue Devils, who advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history. To get there, No. 10-seed Duke (52-7) had to get through No. 7-seed Missouri in Columbia, Mo. In the first game of the Super Regional, the Blue Devils rode a terrific performance from sophomore Cassidy Curd — a sign of things to come — to a 6-3 victory. Curd’s dominance in the circle was not enough Saturday, though, as the Tigers clawed back into things with a 3-1 victory to force a winner-take-all game three. It took extra innings, but Duke finally broke the game open with four runs in the ninth. Sophomore D’Auna Jennings got things started with a homer, and the Blue Devils piled on three more crucial runs. Curd and the pitching staff would need all of them to finally put away Missouri, and a fly out to Jennings sealed a 4-3 victory and a trip to Oklahoma City. Next up for Duke is the opening round of the Women’s College World Series against No. 2-seed Oklahoma — and another road environment for the Blue Devils. -Dom Fenoglio


It was quite the week for Blue Devils on the diamond as they cruised to their fifth ACC title in program history. Entering the tournament as the No. 6-seed, Duke (39-18) overcame the odds by winning four games in six days to conquer the conference. To finish the job, the Blue Devils took down Florida State 16-4 Sunday afternoon, marking the largest margin of victory in an ACC Championship game in 20 years. Graduate transfer Ben Miller blasted two homers in the clinching game including a grand slam that gave Duke a commanding lead it never gave up. Standout performances throughout the tournament earned catcher Alex Stone and star closer Charlie Beilenson recognition on the All-Tournament team, while junior center fielder Devin Obee earned Most Valuable Player and was also awarded All-Tournament honors. After not being named a top-16 seed — and thus a regional host — in the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils prepare to head west for the Norman, Okla., NCAA Regional where they will face off in a double-elimination tournament with Oklahoma, UConn and Oral Roberts. -Elliott Jarnot

Men’s tennis 

Duke lost in the Round of 16 to eventual National Champions TCU, but redshirt senior Garrett Johns and sophomore Pedro Rodenas competed in the NCAA Individual Championships in singles and doubles. The No. 1-seed pair started out strong winning their first two matches, including a third-set tiebreak win against No. 10 Isaac Becroft and Tyler Zink of Oklahoma State. The Blue Devil team won the tiebreak 10-1 in a decisive showing. However, Johns and Rodenas fell in the quarterfinals to Louisville’s Etienne Donnet and Natan Rodrigues, also in three sets. Both lost in the first round of singles in tight matches as well. This was still a magnificent season for the pair, who been Duke's top doubles tandem and top two singles players for the past couple years. -Ranjan Jindal

Track and field

Up in Lexington, Ky., for the NCAA East Regional, the Blue Devils managed to qualify eight athletes — four each from the men and the women — for the National Championships in June. The Duke men were headlined by graduate student Simen Guttormsen, who tied the highest clearance of the meet — 5.42m — to finish third and secure a qualifying spot to NCAAs, where he’ll be in the running for a national title. Graduate hammer-throwers Aimar Palma-Simo and Christian Johnson snagged their qualifying spots with first and fourth place finishes respectively among a 48-member field. Rounding out the first day for the men, Ezra Mellinger booked his ticket with a 7.54m long jump and 11th-place finish. Although the men’s four qualifiers marks their highest in recent years, the women’s four is a far cry from last year’s 10. Still, the women had their moments, thanks in part to senior Brianna Smith, who added to her automatic NCAA qualification in heptathlon with a ninth-place qualifier in the high jump. Senior Moorea Mitchell and graduate Skyla Wilson booked their own tickets with personal best performances in the women’s hammer and 100m hurdles, respectively. To close out the meet, sophomore star Lauren Tolbert ran the women’s 800m meter race in 2:01.98 to shatter an eight-year-old school record and earn her ride to nationals. Next month, the eight Blue Devils will close out their seasons at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 5. -Prithvi Kotapati

Men's golf 

Although the team season ended for the Blue Devils after finishing seventh in the Baton Rouge Regional, sophomore Ethan Evans punched a ticket to the NCAA Championship as the low individual. His first two rounds were over par, but his third featured seven birdies, which helped him card the best round on the course and launch him into T-27th. In a three person playoff with Andrew Swanson of Clemson and Braxton Watts of Utah, only two could advance to the fourth round of stroke play – and Evans fell just short. Still, Evans finished as the top non-advancing player in Carlsbad, Calif., and Duke’s upcoming fall season looks very promising. -Andrew Negus

Women's golf

The Blue Devils brought their postseason run to a close in the fourth round of the NCAA Championship. Duke placed 14th in stroke play after struggling in its final two days of competition — the team advanced comfortably following round three, then sitting at 11th place, but couldn’t connect on putts in the fourth round. Sinking three places, the Blue Devils missed match-play qualification by six spots. Both graduate student Emma McMyler and senior Phoebe Brinker received All-America honors following the Championship. After a couple of months away, Duke will be back and ready for action in the fall. -Ryan Kilgallen


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