(Story courtesy of Texas Lutheran Sports Information Department)
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. -- The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs won the 2019 NCAA Division III Softball Championship McMinnville, Ore. Super Regional and advanced to the D3 College Softball World Series for the first time in school history with a 5-2 victory Sunday over Linfield (Ore.).
TLU will take an overall record of 35-8 into the national finals. Linfield's season is over at 39-8-1.
The eighth-ranked Bulldogs and fifth-ranked Wildcats entered Sunday each having a win in the best 2-of-3 series and with the final game of the series tied at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning. The game was suspended Saturday evening when a thunderstorm hit the McMinnville area.
When the game resumed Sunday, each team went scoreless in the fifth before TLU jumped on the Wildcats for three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The Bulldogs' rally in the sixth started with singles by Kassie Maddox and Sarah Metzer.
After a sacrifice bunt from Cassie Roche moved Metzer and Maddox up a base, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year Kelly Jurden singled to left field to score Maddox.
Jurden then stolen second, and Casey Martin singled to third base. Jurden moved to third, and Metzer scored on the Martin hit.
After a Martin steal of second, a Rebecca Snow fly out to shallow left, and a Skylar Ouellette walk, Jurden stole home.
The steal of home was Jurden's 55th of the season. Jurden already owns the TLU and SCAC single-season records for steals, and she leads the nation in the category.
Jurden finished the day 3-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI, and two stolen bases. Martin was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and Snow added two hits and an RBI. Roche contributed the other TLU RBI.
TLU would need three more outs against Linfield to win the Super Regional Championship, and Linfield would not make it easy.
The Wildcats loaded the bases with two outs before TLU pitcher Kayla Oliveira delivered a pitch that Linfield popped up into the air. Roche, the Bulldog shortstop, raced under the ball to secure the out and the victory. Oliveira notched the victory, her 15th of the year against three losses.
TLU's Ouellette was named the Super Regional's Most Outstanding Player. The sophomore outfielder also was named the Marshall, Texas Regional MOP. Ouellette was 6-for-11 in Oregon with two runs scored and four RBI.
The Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Super Regional was TLU's Jordaine Bishop. Bishop was the winning pitcher in TLU's series-opening victory at the Super Regional. She went nine innings. Bishop tossed three innings in the clincher. She did not allow an earned run and gave up just two hits.
TLU now advances to the officially-titled 2019 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Finals, where the Bulldogs will be the No. 4 seed.
TLU will open the D3 World Series against Williams College (Mass.), the No. 5 seed.
Game time for TLU v. Williams is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the University of Texas at Tyler's Suddenlink Field, a field TLU knows well. The Bulldogs played four regional championships at Suddenlink as well as some regular-season contests against UT Tyler.
The championship finals format is double-elimination. St. Thomas (Minn.) is the top seed. After St. Thomas, the seeds are in order: Illinois Wesleyan, Emory (Ga.), TLU, Williams, Randolph-Macon (Va.), Trine (Ind.), and Eastern Connecticut St.