Lutes Advance to Regional Championship Game
TYLER, Texas - Pacific Lutheran advanced to the title game at the NCAA Division III Softball Championships Tyler Regional by defeating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 5-1, on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the UT-Tyler Ballpark.
The Lutes, ranked No. 4 in the country and now 40-11 this season, will face one of three teams still remaining in the tournament that have one loss. Those teams - Birmingham-Southern, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and tournament host Texas-Tyler - will play elimination games today to determine which team will face the Lutes. The tournament championship game is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. (CDT), and an "if necessary" game will immediately follow.
Senior Stacey Hagensen continued her outstanding pitching in this tournament and throughout the season, limiting the No. 17-ranked Athenas to just three hits while walking none and striking out five. The Athenas scored their only run in the bottom of the fifth when Amanda Banducci, who had two of her team's hits, belted her second homer of the season over the left field fence.
That one run cut the CMS deficit to one run after the Lutes had scored single tallies in the third and fourth innings, and PLU added three insurance runs on four hits in the top of the seventh to put the game away.
The Lutes scored the game's first run in the third when, with one out, Haley Harshaw was hit by a pitch and Amanda Goings and Montessa Califano followed with infield singles. Glenelle Nitta hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Harshaw.
PLU made it 2-0 in the fourth without benefit of a hit. Kaaren Hatlen and Amanda Hall led off the frame by working CMS losing pitcher Hayley Schultz for walks. Katie Lowery bunted the runners up a base, and PLU head coach Erin Van Nostrand went right back to the bunt. Lindsey Matsunaga put down a perfect suicide squeeze to score pinch runner Spencer Sherwin.
After Banducci put some tension back into the game with her homer, the Lutes came up with some big hits in the top of the seventh.
With one out, Nitta hit a bullet through the middle for a single, and Hagensen followed by blistering a single off of CMS third baseman Michaela Ecklund. Hatlen drove in a run with a single to left on the first pitch thrown by relief pitcher Rebecca Gularte, and Amanda Hall followed by hitting a double to the fence in right centerfield, scoring Hagensen from second and Hatlen from first.
After that, it was a matter of Hagensen finishing things off in the bottom of the seventh inning for her 23rd win of the season against five losses. Schultz saw her pitching record fall to 18-10 after she allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of work.
Califano led PLU's nine-hit offense with three singles, and Hall added two hits and two RBI.
- PLU -