Late rally downs softball in NCAA Super Regional

Photo by Haley Staffon
Photo by Haley Staffon

ST. PAUL – After jumping out to a 3-0 lead after one inning, the St. Thomas softball team went to the seventh and final inning tied 4-4 with St. Catherine University in the NCAA Super Regional best of three series Sunday afternoon at St. Kate's Field. 

But the Wildcats put four runs on the board in the top of the seventh to capture an 8-4 win and advance to the Division III Women's College World Series. 

With the loss, the Tommies finish the year 38-11 overall, while the Wildcats improve to 38-12 and will face Illinois Wesleyan on Thursday, May 25.

The Tommies got out to a 3-0 lead early on Sunday afternoon.  With one out, Melissa Barry tripled to ignite the early rally.  Chase Shortly reached first on a hit by a pitch and Brenna Walek walked to load the bases for senior Megan Bush.  Bush delivered with a two-run single that scored Barry and pinch runner Sarah Bueno and give the Tommies a 2-0 lead.

A batter later, Dana Connelly singled before Ellie Wachman scored on an error.  Although St. Thomas left two runners on base, the Tommies took a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

The Wildcats came back to score a pair in the top of the second to cut the deficit to 3-2 before adding another run in the top of the third when an error by the Tommie defense allowed Claire Woebke to score from third to tie the game.

St. Thomas answered in the bottom of the fourth, when Rachel Suter grounded out to short, allowing Keaira Caldarera to score from third.

The back-and-forth battle continued in the top of the fifth when St. Catherine responded again, this time with a two-out solo home run from Kylie Macziewski.  The homer tied the game for the third time, and after the Tommies could not get one across in the bottom of the fifth, the two teams went to the sixth even. 

After the Wildcats went down in order in the top of the sixth, the Jenna Bromen singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but St. Thomas could not bring her in and the two teams went to the seventh.

In the top of the final frame, Woebke led off with a single and advanced to second on a single by Amber Montero.  Woebke came in to score on a Jenna George single and Montero came around on a Macziewski single.

Another single and a wild pitch brought in two more runs for the Wildcats, and the damage was done as the Tommies were retired in order in the bottom of the seventh.

St. Kate's finished with 12 hits on the afternoon, compared to just six for the Tommies.  Bromen was the only Tommie with multiple hits, while Bush went 1-for-3 with two RBI.  Montero and George led the Wildcat offense, each putting together 3-for-4 performances, while Macziewski went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

In the circle, Jessica Eppenberger was tagged with the loss in a complete game effort.  Krista Flugstad tallied her 29th win of the year in seven innings of work.