Pella, Iowa, May 10, 2014 – The Washington University in St. Louis softball team saw its 2014 season come to an end with a pair of one-run losses Saturday at the Central College Regional in Pella, Iowa.
Kayla Antle hit a walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh as North Central College posted a 3-2 win over Washington U. in game one Saturday. In the elimination game, the Bears could not overcome three errors as No. 8-ranked Luther College held on for a 7-6 win in game two.
Washington U. finishes with a 31-17 overall record, the Bears' second-straight 30-win season and ninth in school history.
North Central 3, Washington U. 2 – Game One
Antle's walk-off home run moved the Cardinals into the championship game where they will take on Luther Sunday at 11 a.m. Antle finished the day 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.
Washington U. sophomore starting pitcher Annie Pitkin cruised through the first three innings of play allowing just two hits.
Graduate student Stacy Berg reached on a single with one out in the fourth, and was pinch ran by junior Paige Biles. She moved to second on a sacrifice by senior Kelsey Neal, and then came around to score on an infield single by Hannah Mehrle. Biles made an acrobatic slide getting around the tag at home.
A leadoff homerun by Kiersten Tinkoff tied the game at 1-1 in bottom of the fourth inning. An RBI double by Antle in the fifth gave the Cardinals a one-run lead.
Mehrle and freshman Janet Taylor singled with two outs in the sixth to start a rally. Junior Alyssa Wilson then doubled down the left field line to drive in Mehrle to make it 2-2. The Bears left runners on first and second in the seventh to increase its total to nine for the game.
Pitkin (17-11) took the loss despite another good performance on the mound allowing nine hits and three earned runs in six innings pitched. She also struck out five, moving into third in school history with 305 strikeouts. Mehrle was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI as WUSTL had seven hits in the loss.
"We certainly had our opportunities to score some runs but our offense was slow to make adjustments and never got the production with runners on base," said ninth-year head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté.
#8 Luther 7, Washington U. 6 – Game Two
Luther (32-7) took a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat scoring an unearned run off senior pitcher Kelsey Neal. The lead did not last long as berg laced a two-out RBI double to right center to tie the score.
The Bears scored three-runs on four hits in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-RBI single to left by senior Maggie Ingell. The hit for Ingell was her 221st, setting a new school record. Wilson also had an RBI single in the inning.
Luther regained the lead in the top of the third scoring four runs on four hits off Neal to gain the 5-4 advantage. Alise Miller had the big hit of the inning, a towering two-run home run to left. The Norse added two unearned runs in the fifth off sophomore relief pitcher Brooke Hofer to push the advantage to 7-4.
Despite the three-run deficit, the Bears would not go away as Berg doubled home a run off the right center field fence and then Ingell stole home to cut the lead to one at 7-6 in the fifth. Washington U. went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh as the Bears suffered its ninth one-run loss of the year.
"We fought down to the last out and we just came up short," said Pineda-Boutté. "We were ready to play in game two, and left it all on the field and that is all we can ask of our girls."
Berg (2-for-4, two RBIs), Ingell (2-for-3, two runs scored, two RBIs) and Wilson (2-for-4, two runs scored, RBI) all had multiple-hit games. Neal (8-5) took the loss allowing four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Hofer (3 2/3 innings, four hits, two unearned runs) and Pitkin (one inning) were exceptional in relief.
Berg, senior Claire Henkel, Ingell and Neal closed out their career with a 122-54-1 (.692) overall record in four seasons. The Class of 2014 posted four seasons of 25 or more wins, three NCAA Tournament appearances, and the 2014 University Athletic Association (UAA) championship.
"The senior class led the charge of this team and set the tone for the entire season," said Pineda-Boutté.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: The Bears are 24-24 all-time in the NCAA Tournament … Neal appeared in the 170th game of her career, fourth most in school history … Washington U. was 26-2 this season when scoring first … Ingell finished her career first in school in history in runs scored (158), games started (176), games played (178), hits (221) and at-bats (545) … The Bears have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 12 of 15 seasons.