Softball Falls in Regional Final
May 13, 2002
The East Texas Baptist University Lady Tigers made the most of their first trip to NCAA-III softball postseason play, advancing to the Regional title game. ETBU (38-8) lost 3-1 to No. 1-ranked and undefeated Pacific Lutheran (34-0) in the May 12 championship game.
Seeded third in the Tacoma, Wash., Regional, ETBU, the first ASC team to earn a spot in the NCAA-III Softball Championship, opened play with a 7-0 shutout of second-seed LaVerne University (May 10). Alicia Taylor (21-1) and Kristen Abernathy combined for the four-hit shutout while Jennifer Doyal collected three singles in the Lady Tigers' 10-hit offensive effort.
Pacific Lutheran pounded-out 10 hits and took advantage of four ETBU errors to upend the Lady Tigers 6-0 in the second round (May 11). The Lady Tigers were held to just three hits, including a pair of singles by centerfielder Tonya Minor. Starter Devin Howard (9-2) allowed five hits and five runs in the loss.
East Texas Baptist rallied from a 2-1 deficit, scoring four runs in the fourth and three in the sixth, to advance to the regional championship game with an 8-5 win vs. LaVerne (May 11). Two of the fourth inning runs came courtesy of Abernathy's home run while all three sixth inning runs came at the expense of a LaVerne error. Howard (10-2) picked-up the win while Taylor tossed three innings in relief to get the save. ETBU scattered 13 hits, including three for extra bases, with both Minor and Erica Hardy 3-for-4.
Pacific Lutheran came-from-behind to eliminate East Texas Baptist from the national tournament. ETBU used its speed to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, sending Doyal, who reached on a double to left center, across the plate on a wild pitch. Back-to-back two-out singles in the top of the fifth - a one-run shot to right center by Kelsey Palaniuk and a two run drive down the left field line by Shannon Fritzke - gave PLU all the scoring it needed. The Lutes' defense allowed no ETBU runner past second base in its final three at-bats.
Taylor was dominating in the circle for East Texas Baptist, shutting down the Pacific Lutheran offense with only one hit allowed through the first four innings. The senior gave up three hits and three runs in the fifth to post only her second loss in 23 decisions this season (21-2). Doyal, 2-for-3, led the nine-hit Lady Tiger offense.
Pacific Lutheran tied the NCAA-III season record with its 34th consecutive victory, and moves to the national finals in Eau Claire, Wis., as the No. 1 seed. PLU faces No. 8 seed Salisbury State (Md.) (38-9) in first-round action on Thursday (May 16).
Complete regional recaps and boxscores can be accessed at www.ncaachampionships.com.
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