Bears Shock No. 8 Luther 7-2 in Opening Game of NCAA Tournament
Pella, Iowa, May 9, 2014 – No. 4 seed Washington University in St. Louis broke open a one-run game with four runs in the seventh as the Bears shocked top-seeded and No. 8-ranked Luther College in the opening game Friday at the 2014 NCAA Division III Softball Championship at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
The Bears had 10 hits in the win, including a solo home run by senior Maggie Ingell and a two-run home run by freshman Janet Taylor in the four-run seventh. The home run for Taylor was the first of her career.
"Not only did we get to restart our season, the girls realized the opportunity we had in front of us," said ninth-year head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté. "We came out with the mindset that we wanted to set the tone and the play the best ball we have played all year."
Sophomore pitcher Annie Pitkin (17-10) tossed a complete game in the win, allowing four hits and two earned runs. The win for Pitkin was the 30th of her career.
Freshman Hannah Mehrle was 3-for-3 and reached base all four times. Mehrle also scored two runs and had an RBI in the win. Ingell was 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI and reached base all four times. She is just one hit shy of tying the Washington U. all-time school record of 220 set by Liz Swary (2002-05).
"It was an incredible team win. Coming away from a season that you did not know if you were going to make postseason to some something like this, we wanted to take advantage of our opportunity," said Ingell.
An RBI single up the middle by graduate student Stacy Berg on a 3-2 pitch gave Washington U. the 1-0 lead after its first at-bat. Luther answered right back with a solo homerun to right in the first by Kelsey Rose tied it up 1-1.
Junior Alyssa Wilson tripled to lead off the second inning for the Bears, and then came around to score on a sacrifice fly by junior Adrienne White to make it 2-1. Luther managed just one hit through the first three innings off Pitkin but a solo home run by Katie Wieland in fourth tied the game at 2-2.
Mehrle led off the sixth with a single, the fourth leadoff hitter to reach base for the Bears. She moved to second on a walk by Wilson, and then came around to score after White doubled off the centerfield wall to make it 3-2.
Leading by one run in the seventh, Washington U. broke open the game with four runs on four hits. Ingell's solo homerun, the 30th of her career, made it 4-2 and started the rally. Senior Kelsey Neal doubled to right, and then came around to score on a double by Mehrle. Taylor then sent the first pitch from Becca Girvan over the right field fence to make it 7-2.
"We had a game plan going up at the plate and we executed and that definitely led to our success," said Pineda-Boutté.
Luther (30-7), who had its 13-game winning streak snapped, was limited to four hits in the loss. Girvan (17-4) suffered the loss allowing 10 hits and season-high seven earned runs. The Norse, who won the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (IIAC) tournament championship a week ago, have made four-straight World Series appearances.
Washington U. (31-13) takes on North Central College Saturday at 11 a.m. in the second round. North Central upset No. 2 seed and No. 17 Central 5-0 in the first round.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: Washington U. has won three-straight NCAA opening round games, including back-to-back over top-15 teams … The Bears are 24-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament … Washington U. is 26-1 this season when scoring first … Neal's double in the seventh was the 37th of her career, tied for seventh most in school history.