’Cats’ title shot cut short at regionals

Nicole Bennett

For the Review

 

In a four-hour battle, the softball team’s season ended when the ‘Cats were defeated by No. 9-ranked University of Texas-Tyler in the NCAA Division III West Regional Tournament on May 9.

Senior shortstop Meredith Brunette said despite the end result, the team played well and went out with a bang.

After a 4-0 loss to the Louisiana College Wildcats on May 8, Linfield was bumped to the consolation bracket in the double-eliminationtournament.

After the loss, the ’Cats kept their championship aspirations alive by defeating University of Chapman, 5-3.

Freshman pitcher Claire Velaski carried the defense against Chapman as she earned her first playoff victory and fended off elimination.

Regaining their momentum, it was do or die again for the ’Cats in the second game of the day against Texas-Tyler.

Linfield outhit its opponent, 14-8, but left 17 runners on base. At the bottom of the ninth inning, the scoreboard read 6-4 in Texas-Tyler’s favor, but the ’Cats said they gave a winning effort.

Pitchers sophomore Samantha Van Noy and junior Brittany Miller shared the duty of holding Texas-Tyler’s offense to a minimum. Van Noy got the start and gave up only one earned run before Miller took over, going four innings and striking out four Texas-Tyler batters.

Senior outfielder Stephanie Rice led the offense, which managed only four runs off of the 14 hits allowed. Rice accounted for a team-high of four hits, while sophomore outfielder Rochelle Friend drove in two runs on one hit and one sacrifice flyball.

In the last three innings, the ‘Cats were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. They left seven runners on base, including three in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Trying to come up with a last-chance rally, sophomore leftfielder Kayla Hubrich hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to the Texas-Tyler shortstop. Senior second baseman Jenny Marshall, the All-American who headed the prolific ’Cats offense this season, was forced out at second base.

“I think we all competed hard,” Marshall said. “(Meredith) had some great hits and really came up huge throughout the tournament.”

Marshall has received All-West Region recognition twice and led the ’Cats this season with 62 runs scored and a .476 batting average.

The defending champions ended the season at 38-6. Coach Jackson Vaughan led the ‘Cats to each of the last five conference titles. Vaughan was also named coach of the year in 2007.

“Jackson has a good time with the team and makes it a fun atmosphere,” Marshall said. “He jokes around and makes it interesting.”

Six softball players have been named to the Louisville Slugger All-West Region team as a result of their many successes this season.

The women were recognized for outstanding achievement in multiple areas such as batting average and number of stolen bases. Five of the six awards went to senior first baseman Amanda Attleberger, Rice, Marshall, Brunette and third baseman Erica Hancock. Miller was honored for the third year straight and gained her second award as the Northwest Conference Pitcher of
the Year.

Marshall said Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff helped to develop theteam’s defense.

Phrases like “charge it” and “back hand” were drilled into their heads to keep them focused.

“It was a great season overall,” Marshall said. “I will definitely miss the game, coaches and teammates tremendously. I would not be half the person or player today without them.”

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>