Softball Battles, But Falls To Two Top Seven Teams In NCAA Regional

Softball Battles, But Falls To Two Top Seven Teams In NCAA Regional

Recaps courtesy of UT-Tyler Sports Information

UT-Tyler 2, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 0

TYLER, Texas – The host UT Tyler Patriots outlasted Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 2-0 Sunday evening to advance to the championship round of the Tyler Regional of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Heather Abshire tossed a one-hit gem and Rachel Howell knocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the Patriots (39-8) into Monday's championship round, where they will face the Lutes of Pacific Lutheran.

Abshire struck out three batters and walked five while throwing 110 pitches to earn the complete-game victory. She lowered her tournament ERA to 0.58 and upped her weekend record to 3-0.

The Patriots needed every one of Abshire's outs, as CMS freshman pitcher Hayley Schultz matched her frame-for-frame through five innings. Schultz pitched all but one-third of an inning for the Athenas over the weekend, and finished the tournament with a 2-2 record and a 2.10 ERA.

In Sunday's game against UT Tyler, Schultz pitched six innings, scattering five hits and two earned runs.

The Patriots – and Howell in particular – avenged Saturday's second-round loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. In that game, Schultz struck out Howell on a 13-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning with UT Tyler trailing 3-0.

Sunday's game featured a different story. After Abshire drew a one-out walk in the sixth inning, Howell drilled a 3-2 pitch high off the UT Tyler Ballpark scoreboard in left-field, scoring herself and Lauren Robenalt, who was on base as a pinch-runner.

The Athenas (30-15) knocked their lone hit in the top of the fourth inning when Emily Lopez led off with a double. Abshire recovered and induced two groundouts and flyball out to end the inning.

CMS threatened again in the top of the sixth when Harmony Palmer drew a walk to lead off the inning and then moved to second when Michaela Ecklund's grounder resulted in a throwing error. With two on and no out, Lopez lined out to Tyler shortstop Ashlee Johnson, who then relayed a throw to Howell at first base to catch Ecklund for the double-play.

Howell went 2-for-3 in the game for the Patriots. Johnson and Brittney Batten also knocked hits in the game.

The Patriots meet Pacific Lutheran on Monday, with game time scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PLU needs to win just one game to claim the region championship, while the Patriots will need to take two from the Lutes, who are undefeated in the tournament.

Should UT Tyler win the 1:30 p.m. game, the teams will re-convene for the championship game approximately fourty-five minutes after the completion of the first contest.

Pacific Lutheran 5, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 1

TYLER, Texas -- The Pacific Lutheran Lutes scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to give themselves a comfortable margin as they went on to claim a 5-1 win Sunday over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at the Tyler Regional of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Tournament.

The run support was more than enough for PLU's Stacey Hagensen, who picked up her third victory in as many days as she helped lead the Lutes into Monday's regional championship round. Hagensen (3-0) threw struck out five batters and scattered only three hits en route to the complete-game win.

Hagensen was unhittable for all but one CMS hitter through the first six innings as she retired the Athenas in order in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings. CMS hitter Amanda Banducci was the only Athena player to give Hagensen any trouble, knocking a single in the second inning and home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth.

CMS freshman Hayley Schultz absorbed the loss for the Athenas, giving up four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings.

Amanda Hall went 2-for-3 for the Lutes, which included a 2-RBI double in the top of the seventh inning. Hall's double off CMS relief pitcher Rebecca Gularte scored Hagensen and Kaaren Hatlen and gave the Athenas a four-run lead.

For the first time in the regional tournament, PLU's Montessa Califano batted in the leadoff position for the Lutes. The move paid off as Califano went 3-for-4 with three singles.

The Lutes struck first in the top of the third inning. After loading the bases with one out, Glenelle Nitta knocked home the game's first run with a sacrifice fly that scored Haley Harshaw.

PLU extended its lead in the fourth when Lindsey Matsunaga executed a perfect squeeze play when her bunt allowed Spencer Sherwin to score from third base.

With only two runs allowed over three complete outings, Hagensen lowered her ERA to 0.70 for the regional tournament.

The Lutes head to the championship round Monday when they will face a yet-to-determined opponent. The Lutes will have two chances to claim one win in the double-elimination tournament, with the championship round scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

If the Lutes' opponent wins the 1:30 game Monday, the teams will play a second, winner-take-all contest approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.