(Story Courtesy of Texas Lutheran Sports Information Department)
MARSHALL, Texas -- The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs are NCAA Division III regional champions after a pair of wins Sunday at the Marshall, Texas Regional at East Texas Baptist University.
In their sixth consecutive regional appearance, TLU broke through for a regional title by defeating host ETBU 6-1 in the early game to advance to the championship round of the three-team, double-elimination tournament.
The Bulldogs then dispatched Birmingham-Southern 5-4 in the first championship round game. TLU led 4-0, but BSC rallied for four runs to tie the game in the third inning. The game remained tied until the sixth.
TLU junior Rebecca Snow singled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to score Cassie Roche with the game-winning run against BSC.
"Proud of our kids," said Wade Wilson, TLU's head softball coach. "It was a job well-done today. It's been a good day for me. Today would have been my dad's 67th birthday, so it's been emotional. It sure is sweet to end it with a victory."
Jordaine Bishop, pitching for the first time since March 16, retired the Panthers in order in the seventh to set off the Bulldogs' celebration.
"I'm so grateful to be a part of this program, and I'm so proud of all the girls, everyone," said Bishop. "We fought together. We worked together. Like Becca (Rebecca Snow) said, we've worked so hard all season, and I'm so happy it turned in our favor."
Bishop tossed 4-2/3 innings in relief and allowed just three hits and no runs. She struck out four and walked two to improve to 3-1.
TLU moved its overall season record to 33-7. BSC concluded its season at 35-7.
The Marshall, Texas Regional contained the No. 2-ranked team (ETBU), the No. 6 team (BSC), and the No. 8 team (TLU).
"I'm just so proud of the team," said Snow. "We worked so hard all season. I've been hurt for a lot of the season, and I am so proud of these girls. I've got to watch them practice and see how hard they work, especially Jordaine who has been working her butt off to try and get over this injury. She came in today and did so well."
Snow delivered two hits and two RBI, including the game-winner, against BSC. Battling injuries throughout the year, Snow hit third in the TLU lineup Sunday against the Panthers.
"The one thing really running through my mind was, 'I don't even want to know what he (Wilson) is going to say to me if I don't get this run in right now,'" said Snow. "(BSC pitcher Haley Crumpton) had been throwing me inside all day, and she is a really good pitcher. Props to her."
"Somewhere I had a feeling I was going to get another inside pitch, so I just kinda opened up and took it up the middle. And I was so, so happy it got through the infield."
The Bulldogs now advance to the NCAA Division III Super Regional against Linfield (Ore.). The Super Regional will be played either on the Linfield campus in McMinnville, Ore. or on the TLU campus in Seguin, Texas. No official announcement from the NCAA has been released yet.
"We come into, I think, the toughest regional in the country, with us, ETBU and Birmingham-Southern, and we found a way to get through it," said Wilson. "I'm not sure where we are going yet. As soon as that is released, whether we are hosting or heading out to Linfield, or wherever they are putting us, hopefully we will be ready."
Bulldog right-fielder Skylar Ouellette was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player. Ouellette was 7-for-9 (.778) in the regional. After a 3-for-3 performance on Friday, she was 4-for-6 on Sunday. She had three hits against ETBU and was 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks against BSC.
In the championship win over BSC, Ouellette doubled in the first inning to score Snow. That hit gave TLU a 2-0 lead.
Casey Martin and Kayla Oliveira joined Ouellette and Bishop on the All-Tournament Team.
ETBU – Emily Deramus
ETBU – Savannah Buhl
BSC – Haley Crumpton
BSC – Bailey Murphy
BSC – Abby Spencer
TLU – Kayla Oliveira
TLU – Casey Martin
TLU – Jordaine Bishop
TLU – MOP - Skylar Ouellette