Softball to play in Division III World Series competition

The Wildcats softball team clicked with the sticks during Midwest Regionals in Indianola, Iowa.

In four games, Linfield smashed 14 home runs, outscored opponents 35-10 and punched a ticket to Eau Claire, Wisc., and the Division III World Series on May 21-25.

The World Series trip is the first since the program’s lone national championship in 2007.

“We just played really relaxed and within ourselves,” sophomore center fielder Jaydee Baxter said. “We were just trying to play Catball; we were trying to do our thing and be calm and confident.”

Catball is the “brand” of softball created by the Wildcats that includes emphasis on teamwork, dedication and fun to accomplish goals, such as reaching the national championships.

After a 13-5 win over University of Chicago, Linfield avenged two midseason losses to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by winning 10-3.

Freshman third baseman Karleigh Prestianni had her second two-home run game in as many days while totaling three hits and runs batted in.

Also helping the ’Cats’ offense was sophomore first baseman Staci Doucette, who added two two-run homers.

Junior pitcher Claire Velaski threw her second-straight complete game, while allowing 10 hits and three runs. The win advanced her season record to 16-2.

Juniors shortstop Emily Keagbine and second baseman Alex Hartmann and sophomore catcher Emilee Lepp all had multiple hit games.

The win against CMS pitted the Wildcats against 39-6 St. Thomas University.

Doucette’s solo home run in the first was canceled out by a Tommie run in the fourth. But the run woke up the sleeping ’Cats.

Doucette roped a three-run jack in the fifth. Baxter led off the sixth with a solo shot. Four singles and an error led to four runs in the seventh, giving the Wildcats a 9-1 win.

Sophomore pitcher Lauren Harvey took the ball for Linfield, allowing just three hits in a complete game for her 17th win.

“Both pitchers did a good job for us,” head coach Jackson Vaughan said. “[Harvey and Velask] kept getting big outs when we needed them.”

Because of the double elimination format, Linfield needed to beat St. Thomas again after the Tommies defeated Illinois Wesleyan University to advance to the regional final.

The team found itself trailing 0-1 after two innings, the first time the ’Cats faced a deficit in the regional.

After two innings, five hits and a run, Vaughan pulled Harvey in favor of Velaski.

The ’Cats showed a flair for the dramatics, not scoring until a Baxter lead-off homer in the fifth. Prestianni sealed it with a two-run bomb in the sixth as Velaski shut the door on the Tommies, not allowing another run in the last five innings.

Prestianni, Doucette, Lepp, Baxter and Keagbine were named to the all-tournament team.

“This year we’ve been pretty underrated,” Baxter said. “It worked to our advantage because people weren’t expecting a lot from us. We played loose and had a lot of fun, and that’s really what the key was to winning and playing well.”

Vaughan agreed, noting last year’s freshmen-laden team had little experience on a big stage. But this year’s team, he said, played relaxed and comfortably.

“We certainly hit as good as we’ve hit all season at the regional last weekend,” Vaughan said. “We worked hard on some things individually with each kid; I think it paid off.”

Linfield’s 14 regional home runs gave the ’Cats 73 on the year, a new D-III record previously held by the 2006 St. Thomas team.

The 39-5 Wildcats will face 41-5 Luther College in their opening game of the double-elimination tournament May 21. Linfield enters with a D-III best 25-game winning streak.

“We certainly have a tough draw,” Vaughan said. “I think Luther, along with us, is probably [in the] top half of the teams that are there. We’ll have our hands full for sure in the first game.”

The ’Cats and Luther are joined in Wisconsin by Ithaca College, DePauw University, Christopher Newsport College, Eastern Connecticut State University, East Texas Baptist University and Moravian College. the Wildcats against 39-6 St. Thomas University.

Doucette’s solo home run in the first was canceled out by a Tommie run in the fourth. But the run woke up the sleeping ’Cats.

Doucette roped a three-run jack in the fifth. Baxter led off the sixth with a solo shot. Four singles and an error led to four runs in the seventh, giving the Wildcats a 9-1 win.

Sophomore pitcher Lauren Harvey took the ball for Linfield, allowing just three hits in a complete game for her 17th win.

“Both pitchers did a good job for us,” head coach Jackson Vaughan said. “[Harvey and Velaski] kept getting big outs when we needed them.”

Because of the double elimination format, Linfield needed to beat St. Thomas again after the Tommies defeated Illinois Wesleyan University to advance to the regional final.

The team found itself trailing 0-1 after two innings, the first time the ’Cats faced a deficit in the regional.

After two innings, five hits and a run, Vaughan pulled Harvey in favor of Velaski.

The ’Cats demonstrated a flair for the dramatics, not scoring until a Baxter lead-off homer in the fifth. Prestianni sealed it with a two-run bomb in the sixth as Velaski shut the door on the Tommies, not allowing another run in the last five innings.

Prestianni, Doucette, Lepp, Baxter and Keagbine were named to the all-tournament team.

“This year we’ve been pretty underrated,” Baxter said. “It worked to our advantage because people weren’t expecting a lot from us. We played loose and had a lot of fun, and that’s really what the key was to winning and playing well.”

Vaughan agreed, noting last year’s freshmen-laden team had little experience on a big stage. But this year’s team, he said, played relaxed and comfortably.

“We certainly hit as good as we’ve hit all season at the regional last weekend,” Vaughan said. “We worked hard on some things individually with each kid; I think it paid off.”

Linfield’s 14 regional home runs gave the ’Cats 73 on the year, a new D-III record held previously by the 2006 St. Thomas team.

The 39-5 Wildcats will face 41-5 Luther College in their opening game of the double-elimination tournament May 21. Linfield enters with a D-III best 25-game winning streak.

“We certainly have a tough draw,” Vaughan said. “I think Luther, along with us, is probably [in the] top half of the teams that are there. We’ll have our hands full for sure in the first game.”

The Wildcats and Luther are joined in Wisconsin by Ithaca College, DePauw University, Christopher Newsport College, Eastern Connecticut State University, East Texas Baptist University and Moravian College.

Kurtis Williams

Freelancer

Kurtis Williams can be reached at

linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com

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