Release courtesy of Brian Alden, Trine University
Photo credit Dean Orewiler, Trine University
ANGOLA, IN - Anderson University grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third inning of final game the 2013 NCAA Division III Angola Softball Regional Angola and never let up, defeating the Allegheny College Gators 5-1 to claim the regional title and advance to the national tournament beginning on May 17 in Eau Claire, Wis.
It was the second time in two days that the teams would meet with the same result. No. 8-seed Anderson defeated No. 6-seed Allegheny, 16-4, on Sunday afternoon in game 14. That left each team with one defeat, thus making game 15 a winner-take-all finale today.
Being the first to bring in runners makes the other team chase, Ravens head coach Tony Holloway had said after winning Sunday's game. His team got on the board first today after two scoreless innings.
The Gators, under first-season coach Beth Curtiss, had been in the winners' bracket from the first day of tournament action on Thursday, defeating three teams to get to the final.
"We didn't play our best ball at the end, but we played our best ball to get here," Curtiss said. Her team committed five errors today of which Anderson scored on two.
In the bottom of the third, Anderson senior Natalie Moorhouse doubled to right center off Allegheny pitcher Caitlin Nealer. Junior Katie Lee then reached on an error allowing Moorhouse to score. Senior Amy Wuestefeld singled to score Lee and Wuestefeld scored on a three-base error by the Gators left fielder.
At the top of the fourth, Allegheny plated their only run when senior Nicole Rodi singled up the middle to bring in junior Halea Hayden, who had singled through the left side, bringing the score to 3-1 in Anderson's favor.
The Ravens didn't score in the fourth, but made up for it with two runs in the fifth. "We got a couple of big breaks and tacked a couple on," Holloway said.
Sophomore Samantha Steele reached on an infield single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then third on a single by Wuestefeld before scoring on another Gators error. Sophomore Yardley Collett singled down the left field line to bring in Wuestefeld, who had advance to second on a throwing error.
Neither team scored in the sixth, as Anderson brought in freshman Sami Frazier to relieve senior Devin Moorman on the mound after the Gators had two runners on and with the tying run on-deck.
The Gators got a runner on in the top of the seventh but were unable to make a rally as the Ravens claimed their first regional crown.
"The team has a lot to be proud of getting to this point," coach Curtiss said. "The team came back after a loss yesterday and to really fight shows a lot," she said. "I'm proud of that, too."
Curtiss also gave a nod to pitcher Nealer because she handled "a lot of pressure to take on what she did."
"I was 0-29 coming in and I've been trying to reach this point in my 30-year career and trying to get the team here," sixth-season coach Holloway said. "If it wasn't for the team, I wouldn't be here today."
Holloway dubbed Collett a "clutch RBI player" who was "pretty automatic every time we needed that ball put into play." Collett was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"I'm so happy," Collett said after the game. "I'm so proud of the team in general …everyone from freshman to seniors pulled us through."
Holloway was also quick to credit his pitching staff. Moorman is a returning conference pitcher of the year; freshman Frazier has "come on very strong and is a leading winning pitcher with double-digit wins; freshman Hannah Belo has seven wins and senior Lauren Smith has "stepped up big," Holloway said.
In addition to the MOP in Collett, the Ravens placed four other players on the All-Tournament Team in Frazier, Lee, Smith and Steel. Allegheny had four players named to the team in Sadie Stuart, Rodi, Hayden and Nealer.
Other players who round out the all-tournament team are senior Devan Boggs of Capital University, junior Alex Walter of Thomas More College, and sophomores Carly Searles and Leah Hall of Trine University.
Both teams had senior players who had missed commencement and received their diplomas during the awards ceremony. Allegheny coach Curtiss conferred diplomas to seniors Fort and Rodi. Anderson University president James L. Edwards handed diplomas to seniors Lys Hess, Moorman, Natalie Moorhouse, Megan Ream, Katy Ogden and Amy Wuestefeld.