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Bison upset defending softball national champ before falling to Tulsa

North Daktoa State softball players celebrate their 3-2 win over Oklahoma Saturday in an NCAA regional tournament game in Norman, Okla. Photo by Joshua Gatelely / NDSU Athletics1 / 3
North Dakota State second baseman Zoe Stavrou tags out Oklahoma’s Kelsey Arnold who was trying to stretch a single to a double in the seventh inning of Saturday's NCAA regional tournament softball game in Norman, Okla. (Photo by Joshua Gatelely / NDSU Athletics)2 / 3
North Dakota State's Jacquelyn Sertic delivers a pitch during Saturday's NCAA regional softball tournament game against Oklahoma. (Photo by Joshua Gatelely / NDSU Athletics)3 / 3

NORMAN, Okla.—North Dakota State completed the upset of defending national champion Oklahoma 3-2 in nine innings, but dropped a 2-1 decision to Tulsa in a winner's bracket game of the NCAA Norman Regional on Saturday, May 20, at Marita Hynes Field.

NDSU (29-32) is scheduled to play the winner of Oklahoma and Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 21, in an elimination game. That winner will face Tulsa (41-15) in the championship game at 4 p.m.

"Tough loss, Tulsa played great," said NDSU head coach Darren Mueller. "Tough to take when you give up a couple runs in that last inning, but you have to tip your caps to them (Tulsa), they have a great program.

"Last time we played it went into the seventh inning, as well. We're just hoping to come back and play again which is something we're fortunate to do."

NDSU rallied in the top of the ninth to edge the Sooners. Tabby Heinz lined the first pitch she saw for a RBI single to right center to score Montana DeCamp from second with the eventual game-winning run. DeCamp reached on an error with one out and moved to second on Julia Luciano's sacrifice bunt.

Jacquelyn Sertic (19-23), who threw 213 pitches including 165 strikes in completing both games, retired Oklahoma in order in the bottom of the ninth. That included an over-the-shoulder catch from DeCamp, who outran the ball into left center to make the catch.

"It says a lot about Jax for her to be able to come back," Mueller said. "She was really pitching in the moment, and that's something we preach when she throws her best and there were a lot of times this year when she got ahead of herself and that's maybe when she's been hit a little bit more. I'm just really proud because she really stepped it up today."

Sertic scattered seven hits, struck out six and issued now walks over nine innings. She threw 118 pitches including 89 for strikes in the win. She benefitted from solid defense including bottom of the seventh. Kelsey Arnold slapped a single down the left field line. The ball was scooped up by Stephanie Soriano, who rifled a strike to Zoe Stavrou at second to nail Arnold trying to stretch the hit into a double.

On Friday night, North Dakota State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Vanessa Anderson's two-run home run to right center. Anderson fell behind in the count 1-2 before hitting the seventh pitch of the at bat. Anderson has a team-high 13 home runs.

Oklahoma tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on Fale Aviu's two-run single through the left

NDSU faced a different Paige Parker on Saturday when the game was resumed. However, Parker left with two outs in the fifth inning and was replaced by another lefty Paige Lowary, who allowed only one hit and struck out one over the final 4.1 innings. Parker struck out six, allowed three hits and walked two over the first 4.2 innings.

Sertic and Tulsa's Emily Watson put on a pitching display in the second game. Both pitchers carried no-hitters into the sixth inning.

NDSU broke up Watson's no-hit bid in the bottom of the sixth when Stavrou and Soriano belted back-to-back doubles to lead-off the frame. Stavrou scored to put the Bison ahead 1-0.

That lead was short-lived. Maggie Withee reached on an error and moved to second on Tori Stafford's sacrifice bunt. Withee advanced to third on a Haley Meinen single, then scored on Maddie Withee's RBI base hit. Another NDSU error scored Meinen from second.

The Bison threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Luciano was hit by pitch and replaced by Courtney Johnson. Johnson moved to second on a Heinz sacrifice bunt. However, Watson recorded her 10th strikeout of the game and induced a fly out to left field to end the rally.

Watson improved to 30-4 on the season. She issued two walks and hit a batter to go with the 10 strikeouts.

Sertic struck out seven, issued no walks and allowed two unearned runs. She threw 95 pitches against Tulsa including 76 for strikes.