Pirates Split at NCAA Regional

Photo courtesy ETBU Athletics
Photo courtesy ETBU Athletics

MARSHALL, Texas – Whitworth University won the opener of the Marshal, Texas NCAA Division III softball regional on Friday afternoon, but the Pirates could not complete a comeback in the nightcap and ended up with a split.

Whitworth, ranked 17th in the latest NFCA Division III poll, knocked off 6th-ranked Texas-Dallas 5-3 in the opener.  But 10th-ranked East Texas Baptist held on to win 6-3 over the Bucs (36-10) in the nightcap.

UTD (36-9) and ETBU (36-8) will complete the round-robin portion of the regional by playing each other in the early game on Saturday.  Whitworth will play again at 5:00 pm (CST) on Saturday and the Pirates know they will be playing ETBU. 

Game 1 – #17 Whitworth 5, #6 Texas Dallas 3  (Click here for game 1 press conference)
Madi Perez pitched a complete game and also was part of the biggest defensive play of the contest as the third-seeded Pirates pulled off the upset of the top-seeded Comets in the regional opener.  It was Whitworth's first-ever NCAA tournament win in softball.

UTD got on the board in the top of the first inning when Brittany Perkins hit a solo home run with two outs. 

Whitworth loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first, but could not score.  Then the Bucs took the lead with two runs in the bottom second.  Kinsey McNaught, who went 3-3 in the game, drove in the first run with a single through the left side.  Shannon Wessel followed with a perfect bunt single that scored Desi Graham, who had reached on an error.

Whitworth added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth after loading the bases with one out.  Tessa Matthews drove in the first run when the Comets tried to get Myranda Ramirez at the plate on a Matthew's ground ball to second base.  But Ramirez beat the throw home.  Perez followed with ground ball that forced Wessel out at home, but UTD mishandled the double play attempt, allowing Michelle Silva to score from second base.

Meanwhile Perez was dominating the Comet batters, retiring 12 in a row after allowing the solo home run.  UTD finally broke through against Perez in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with no one out.  An error at shortstop allowed a run to score, then Stefanie Polderman singled home another run to pull the Comets to within 4-3 with the bases still loaded and no one out.

But then Perez made the pitch, and the play, of the game.  She induced Kendall Moore to hit back to the circle, where Perez fielded and threw home to start a 1-2-3 double play.  Perez then got Heather Gilbert to foul out to end the inning.

Whitworth added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.  Wessel led off with a double, moved to third on Silva's ground out and scored on a Matthews ground out.

Perez gave up a two-out double and a walk in the bottom of the seventh to put the tying runs on base.  But she got Samantha Halliburton to line out to third base to end the game.

Perez improved to 24-4 after giving up three runs on eight hits in her 20th complete game of the season.

Lauren McLeod (18-2) took only her second loss of the season after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in 2.0 innings.  She walked four batters.  Sara Davison gave up three runs on five hits in four innings of relief.

Game 2 - #10 East Texas Baptist 6, #17 Whitworth 3 (Click here for game 2 press conference)
Lacey Lindsey homered twice to help the host Tigers build a 6-0 lead before the Pirates rallied with three runs in the sixth inning.

Jayme Perez hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to give ETBU a 1-0 lead.  She doubled in another run in the third inning for a 2-0 advantage.  One batter later Lindsey followed with her first home run of the game, chasing Perez and giving the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

Lindsey homered again in the fifth, her 12th of the season, giving ETBU a 6-0 lead.

Whitworth cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth.  Wessel doubled home Ramirez with one out to get the Pirates on the scoreboard.  Silva followed with her eighth home run of the year to make the score 6-3.  But McKayla Hendrix came on in relief and retired both batters she faced in the bottom of the sixth and then retired the side in the seventh to earn her first save of the season.

Jordan Anderson (16-3) earned the win for ETBU.  She allowed three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings.

Perez fell to 24-5 after giving up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings.  Ashley Trueblood allowed two runs on four hits in 2.2 innings of relief.  Megan Truesdale threw one scoreless inning for the Bucs.