The Wildcats dominated the competition while away for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Regional Tournament in Bloomington, Ill., on May 13.
Linfield started the final game against Illinois Wesleyan University with three wins, all of which were all shut out games.
Starting the final game of the tournament, the Wildcats were slow at the plate until the second inning, where they scored their first two runs. Walking senior Staci Doucette, freshman Kate Hasty stepped in for Doucette and pinch ran for her. Next up to bat was junior Karleigh Prestianni, who hit a triple to right field, bringing in the first run of the game with Hasty earning the run. After making it to third base, Prestianni was replaced by pinch runner, sophomore Kristin Herren, who stole home, earning the second run after junior Megan Wallo tried to steal second base, but was tagged out.
The Wildcats continued their lead into the fourth inning when Doucette hit a home run into left field.
Linfield continued its reign over the tournament with no team scoring against them during any of their games by scoring another three runs in the fifth inning. With two runners on base, senior Emilee Lepp hit a three-run home run, allowing senior Jaydee Baxter and freshman Grace Middelstadt to score.
Leading the game 6-0, Linfield went into the seventh inning ready to end the game. In the final minutes, the Titans were able to score two runs. Even with the Titan’s freshman Audra James scoring off of junior Keri Leach’s home run, it wasn’t enough to catch up to the Wildcats.
Celebrating the win, the Wildcats rushed the field after the final out, embracing and high-fiving each other, before being awarded their regional champion medals.
“We just knew that we needed to do what we do,” said Wildcats coach Jackson Vaughn in a press release on the Linfield athletic website. “We won [Saturday’s game against the Titans] with only two hits but we got seven walks, which was a big part of the win. Today, we put together some things early on with some bunts. Then we got the big home runs from Staci and Emilee, which is more our style. If we go down, we’ll go down playing our game.”
The softball team declined to comment.
Linfield will travel for the NCAA Division III finals tournament May 18 in Salem, Va. It will play its first game against either Trine University or Ohio Northern University, who rank first and second in the NCAA Central region. The Wildcats will be going into NCAA finals placed third in the NCAA West region, behind University of Texas-Tyler and Pacific Lutheran.
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