Bloomington Regional Website
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – For all practical purposes, it was over in a matter of minutes.
Linfield batted through its lineup in the top of the first inning, part of an eight-hit, six-run onslaught that carried the defending national champion Wildcats to an 8-0 five-inning whitewash of Anderson (Ind.) Friday afternoon at the Bloomington Regional at IWU Field.
By the time Karleigh Prestianni hit her ninth home run of the season 31 minutes into the contest, there was little doubt the Wildcats would be moving on to a winners bracket game Saturday against tournament host and top-seeded Illinois Wesleyan (38-6). That game is set to be played at noon Pacific time.
Ravens starter Devin Moorman (10-5) lasted just a third of an inning, surrendering five hits and five earned runs. Moorman’s replacement, seldom-used Lauren Smith, couldn’t stop the bleeding, eventually giving up a two-run blast to Prestianni in the second stanza that made it 8-0. Perhaps symbolically, Prestianni and the Wildcats celebrated in unison on the way back to the dugout as a LifeFlight helicopter circled overhead before making its landing across the street at BroMenn Medical Center.
Prestianni’s homer was just one of a dozen hits for Linfield (40-5), which won its 10th consecutive regional playoff game across two seasons.
Anderson (33-11) drops into an elimination game Saturday at 10 a.m. Pacific against St. Norbert.
Wildcats all-star pitcher Karina Paavola took a no-hitter into the fourth inning and was her usual dominating self, striking out eight Ravens on the way to a three-hit shutout. Paavola didn’t allow a walk while picking up her 21st win of the season and sixth shutout.
In the game-turning first inning, six of the Wildcats’ first seven hitters tapped out hits, including RBI singles by Staci Doucette, Prestianni, Katy Brosig and Jordan Mixsell.
Benefitting from consecutive Linfield errors, the Ravens loaded the bases on Paavola with two outs in the fifth inning, but the powerful righthander struck out Katie Lee and Amy Wuestefeld in succession to end the game.
Prestianni finished 2-for-3 with four RBI. Also turning in two-hit performances were Middelstadt, Brosig, Doucette and Mixsell.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Going back one year plus a day, the Ravens were defeated 10-0 to Linfield in the opening game of the Pella Regional, the first of 10 NCAA playoff victories the Wildcats would enjoy during the 2011 national championship season. . . Anderson came into Friday’s game having won 24 of its last 26 contests, losing only to top-seeded regional participants Illionis Wesleyan and Trine (Ind.). . . the 'Cats posted their sixth straight shutout in the regional playoffs. . . Mixsell (3-for-5) is one of four players atop tournament statistics with a .600 batting average . . . Paavola and Lauren Harvey have combined for a spotless 0.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts through two games. . . Middelstadt leads all tournament players with three stolen bases.
IN OTHER REGIONAL TOURNAMENT GAMES: St. Norbert ended Fontbonne’s season with a 7-0 shutout and Carthage eliminated Bendictine 1-0. . . in the winners bracket, Illinois Wesleyan topped Wisconsin-Eau Claire 2-1. . . Saturday's schedule has Carthage battling UW-Eau Claire in the early game followed by the Anderson-St. Norbert loser-out matchup . . the winners of the two elimination games play in Saturday's late game.