Pella Regional Website
PELLA, Iowa – Top-ranked Linfield continued its systematic demolition of the NCAA Division III Pella Regional, thumping Coe College 10-0 in five innings in a winners bracket game Sunday at Kuyper Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (44-2) won for the 33rd consecutive time and moved into the driver’s seat of the eight-team double-elimination tournament hosted by Central College.
Coe (38-9), ranked seventh in the most recent NFCA Top 25 poll, lost for the first time in the tournament and now must fight its way through the losers bracket with hopes of meeting Linfield again on Monday.
The Wildcats, 3-0 in the regional tournament, have outscored opponents 37-0.
Two teams remain alive – Coe and host Central – and those two will meet in an elimination game early Monday. The winner must beat the Wildcats twice consecutively to claim the regional championship. Linfield plays at 10 a.m. Pacific time needing only one win to claim its fourth regional title in program history.
Linfield followed its intended plan of attack - stay focused on the matter at hand, get an early lead, then start swinging for the fences.
Coe’s all-star pitcher, Ashlee Simon, lasted only two innings against the Linfield bats. She surrendered eight hits, three walks and eight earned runs without recording a single strikeout. Simon, one of the hottest pitchers in the nation this spring, fell to 27-3.
Wildcats All-American Staci Doucette went 2-for-2 with a home run and four RBI, Emilee Lepp was 2-for-3, and Karleigh Prestianni blasted her 10th home run of the season as the Wildcats piled up a dozen hits. Kayla Hubrich and Alex Hartmann also contributed a pair of hits.
Claire Velaski pitched her third victory of the tournament, striking out three Kohawks and scattering three hits over four innings. Freshman pitcher Karina Paavola came in to wrap up the victory in the fifth, fanning two of the three batters she faced.
Linfield plated four runs in both the first and second innings and the outcome was never in doubt after that.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The rain that caused so much havoc on the tournament schedule finally stopped around noon local time . . . forecasters predict dry weather during the next 36 hours. . . Coe’s Simon came into Sunday’s game with 341 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA. . . Linfield and Coe met once previously on the softball diamond with the Wildcats winning 5-2 at the 2006 NCAA Finals in Raleigh, N.C. . . . the winner of Monday’s regional championship game will be one of eight teams to advance to the NCAA Finals May 20-24 in Salem, Va. . . with her 20th roundtripper of the season, Doucette matched her 2010 home runs total. . . Lepp and Doucette came into the game sharing the Linfield career record for most homers, each at 51. . . Velaski improved to 22-1 for the season and 49-6 for her career, moving her up to No. 2 on the Linfield career wins ladder behind former Wildcats All-American Brittany Miller (2006-09). . . Miller (71-14 all-time) pitched the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 2007.