Story courtesy of Texas Lutheran University Sports Information
SEGUIN, Texas -- Texas Lutheran University and the University of Texas at Tyler split NCAA Division III Seguin, Texas Regional games Saturday to force a winner-take-all contest at noon Sunday for the regional championship.
At TLU's Ed Kruse Stadium, TLU took the first game 7-2 behind a seven-run first inning.
The Patriots staved off elimination with a 3-0 win in the first championship round game on the strength of a complete-game shutout from sophomore right-hander Whitney Romero.
Second-ranked TLU (39-2) had its 32-game win streak snapped in the late game. Third-ranked UT Tyler (40-2) had its 32-game win streak snapped in the early contest.
Sunday's winner advances to the NCAA Super Regional against the McMinnville, Ore. Regional champion.
In the early game, TLU sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning and knocked out UT Tyler ace Colleen Bentke, who lasted just a third of an inning. Bentke and TLU ace Maitlin Raycroft could not get out of the first. Raycroft (20-0) also pitched just a third of an inning. Bentke took the loss. Raycroft received a no-decision.
In the first, the Bulldogs touched up Bentke (22-2) for five runs and then scored two runs (both unearned) against Miranda Leal.
TLU's Skylar Ouellette belted a bases-clearing, three-run double to push the lead to 5-0.
Kyla Lockley stole three bases in the first inning alone, and reserve second baseman Kali Chatham delivered an RBI in the first. The Bulldogs scored the final two runs of the first on a McKay Bloxham RBI groundout and a fielding error.
Kassie Maddox relieved Raycroft in the first and went the rest of the way. The junior right-hander improved to 5-1 by scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs. She struck out two and walked two.
After the seven-run barrage in the first, TLU did not score for the next 13 innings against UT Tyler pitching.
The Patriots' Romero worked out of trouble in several spots in the second game. She stranded eight TLU base runners and scattered seven hits. She struck out three and walked one.
Kailey Henderson delivered the key two-out hit for the Patriots in the top of the fifth. She sent a well-hit softball to the right-field fence, where Bloxham appeared initially to rob Henderson of a two-run home run. With Bloxham colliding into the fence and her glove on top of the fence, the ball popped out of her glove and over the fence for the Henderson homer.
Henderson finished the second game 2-for-3 with a run scored and the two RBI.
Earlier in the game, Bloxham had robbed UT Tyler slugger Ashley Perez of extra bases with a catch against the right-field fence.
The Patriots added an insurance run in the seventh, and Romero worked out of a jam in the bottom of the frame as TLU brought the tying run to the plate.
TLU had two game-two hits from Lockley, but the Bulldogs could not come up with the key hit against Romero.
Jordaine Bishop took the loss for TLU. She dropped to 9-1 after allowing just four hits in five innings. She gave up two runs.
Maddox pitched the final two innings and allowed the run in the seventh.
TLU has finished as an NCAA Regional runner-up in three of the last four seasons. On two of those occasions, Tyler has defeated TLU in the championship round.
All of those previous regional championship encounters have taken place in Tyler, Texas. For the first time in school history, TLU is the host of a softball regional.