Hawks advance to Elite EightDECATUR, Ala. – One big inning and another stellar pitching performance from Sara Jane Webster put the Dickinson State softball team into the Elite Eight tournament of the NAIA national softball championships on Sunday afternoon.
DECATUR, Ala. – One big inning and another stellar pitching performance from Sara Jane Webster put the Dickinson State softball team into the Elite Eight tournament of the NAIA national softball championships on Sunday afternoon.
The third-ranked Blue Hawks scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to claim the lead and Webster struck out 17, including Concordia College’s (Calif.) final two batters to seal a 3-1 victory in the final Pool C game.
The game was suspended at the beginning of the second inning Saturday because of torrential rain.
DSU faces sixth-ranked Oklahoma City at 10 a.m. Monday in the opening round of the Elite Eight bracket tournament.
“It was an exciting game. Every pitch, every out, every at-bat was critical,” DSU coach Guy Fridley said. “It was an extremely intense game from the start of the game, from the first pitch.”
Danielle Crawford had an RBI single to Kelly Jahn drove in two go-ahead runs on consecutive at-bats in the sixth to give DSU the lead.
Jahn, a junior first baseman, is 5-for-10 with six RBI in the tournament.
“She came up with big hit after big hit for us,” Fridley said. “She’s a pretty good hitter to have in the seven hole.”
Jody Lantz led off the sixth inning with a single, Krystin Gemar got on with a walk, Nikki Marcoux singled to move Heather Kelley – courtesy running for Lantz – to third and Gemar to second.
Kelley scored on Crawford’s single through the gap at shortstop and kept two runners in scoring position with no outs, prompting 14th-ranked Concordia to make a pitching change.
Rachel Reekstin started the game and had allowed just two hits before the inning.
Fridley said it took DSU’s batters that long to adjust to Reekstin’s devastating drop ball pitch.
“We struggled the first five innings just putting it in play,” Fridley said.
Laura Wiens came in for the struggling Reekstin and worked Jahn to a 2-2 count before she singled up the middle to score Ashley Neufeld – courtesy running for Gemar – and Marcoux.
“We were just fortunate to score three there in the sixth with some big hits,” Fridley said. “It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time.”
With the lead and three outs left to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight, Webster was in her prime. The sophomore from Los Angeles retired the side to win her third game of the tournament and improve to 25-2 this season.
Webster has thrown 37 strikeouts in the tournament to bring her ever-expanding school and Dakota Athletic Conference single-season record to 308.
“I’m glad she’s in the circle for us,” Fridley said.
No matter what happens against Oklahoma City, DSU will play at least two games today. If they lose their opener but win in a loser-out game later in the day, they’ll play a third game Monday evening.
Fridley said the Blue Hawks will likely throw Webster against Oklahoma City.
“It depends on how she feels,” Fridley said. “Right now Plan A is to go with her and we’ll adjust after that. We’ll see how she feels. After the (Concordia) game she got some treatment and said she felt great.”
Fridley added that Nikki Marcoux will likely soon see her first pitching action of the tournament.
CU 000 100 0 – 1 4 0
DSU 000 003 x – 3 6 0
Rachel Reekstin, Laura Wiens (6) and Carly Smith. Sara Jane Webster and Erika Arvizo. W–Webster (25-2). L–Reekstin. HR–CU, Jennifer Simons.
Highlights: CU, Simons 2-for-2, HR; Reekstin 5 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 4 BB; Alicia Lucatero 1-for-3; Smith 1-for-3. DSU, Webster CG, 17 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 1 ER, 1-for-3; Jody Lantz 1-for-3; Nikki Marcoux 1-for-3, run; Danielle Crawford 1-for-3, RBI; Kelly Jahn 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Erika Arvizo 1-for-3.