ST. PAUL – Despite a gem of a performance from senior pitcher Jessica Eppenberger, the St. Thomas softball team fell to St. Catherine University by the score of 1-0 in game one of the NCAA Super Regional on Friday afternoon at St. Kate's Field.
The Wildcats scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the second and held on from there, despite a threat from the Tommies in the top of the sixth.
With Friday's result, St. Thomas drops to 37-10 overall, while St. Catherine improves to 37-12 on the year. The two teams will play again tomorrow for the remaining games of the best-of-three series.
After one and a half scoreless innings, the Wildcats scored the game's only run in the bottom of the second. Jenna George led off the at-bat with a single. After Gabby Norman was inserted to pinch run, she advanced to second on a passed ball and took third on a single from Kylie Macziewski to give St. Kate's first and third with nobody out.
A sacrifice bunt turned into bases loaded when Eppenberger faked a throw to first in an effort to gun down Nordman at third, but she was back in time. A ground ball by the next batter got an out for the Tommies, but Nordman scored to put St. Kate's up 1-0.
The Wildcats loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fourth, but Eppenberger dug in and got out of the jam, getting identical fly outs to right field to escape damage.
St. Thomas' best opportunity came in the top of the sixth. A pair of singles with one out put runners on early in the at bat. Two batters later, the Tommies loaded the bases with two gone in the inning when Brenna Walek walked. But the Purple couldn't get the big hit it needed and went down in order in the top of the seventh to stamp the score final at 1-0.
St. Thomas recorded just two hits on the afternoon, compared to six for the Wildcats. Eppenberger was superb in the circle, spreading those six hits across six innings of work, allowing just one run. St. Catherine's Krista Flugstad went all seven in a two-hit shutout.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow afternoon at St. Kate's field in the remaining game(s) of the best of three series. Game two of the series is set for a 1:00 pm first pitch.