Interactive NCAA Finals Bracket
Day 2 Video Recap
SALEM, Va. - Texas-Tyler needed only one run to beat Linfield Saturday.
Instead, the Patriots got four.
The result left Wildcat fans in stunned silence following the 4-0 upset, sending ripples throughout the NCAA Division III Finals and snapping the Wildcats’ school-record 35-game unbeaten streak in a winners bracket game at Moyer Sports Complex.
The No. 1-ranked Wildcats (46-3) fall into an elimination game Sunday against Eastern Connecticut starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time. The winner then must play a second loser-out game at 4:30 as the eight-team field is pared to three.
UTT senior Stacy Shepherd pitched a four-hit shutout against the nation’s top-ranked team and Texas-Tyler doubled Linfield’s hits total. The Wildcats entered the game averaging 9.25 runs per game, but time and again, Shepherd found ways to get outs and keep the favored Wildcats off the board.
Shepherd coaxed Linfield into a variety of popups and flyouts, and the Patriots (40-11) held the Wildcats without an extra-base hit. Linfield’s home-run hitting quartet of Staci Doucette, Emily Keagbine, Karleigh Prestianni and Emilee Lepp combined for only one hit.
UTT scored what was ultimately the winning run in the third inning and a Linfield miscue played a part. Patriots All-American Brittani Hanna doubled a full-count, two-out pitch to center field off Wildcats ace Claire Velaski. Hanna skated home moments later when Velaski snatched a Lauren Robenalt grounder and threw an errant ball to first base for what should have been a routine play to end the inning.
The Wildcats had multiple opportunities to win the game. In the fourth, the ‘Cats put runners at second and third with one out, but Alex Hartmann popped out and Ashley Garcia (Sr., Beaveton, Ore.) tapped a grounder back to Shepherd, leaving the designated home team frustrated by a lack of offensive production.
Again in the sixth, Linfield put two runners aboard with one out, but Shepherd answered the threat by striking out Hartmann looking and Sami Keim swinging on a full-count pitch.
In the bottom of the inning, the Patriots used five hits and another fielding error to push three runs across. The scoring burst in an otherwise tight battle was highlighted by a two-run single to center by Taylor Freudenbe.
Velaski saw her scoreless innings streak in the playoffs ended at 27 and suffered only her second defeat against a single-season record 24 victories. She allowed six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but managed only one strikeout.
Shepherd threw 112 pitches, 61 for strikes. She fanned three Wildcats and walked four to improve to 18-4 for the season.
Hubrich went 2-for-4. Doucette and Jaydee Baxter accounted for Linfield's remaining base hits. The Wildcats stranded eight runners.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield came into the game winless in three previous NCAA playoff meetings against Texas-Tyler, losing each time in extra innings by a combined margin of four runs. . . the Wildcats fell 6-4 in nine innings at the 2008 regional tournament at Tyler, Texas. . . the Patriots also prevailed 5-4 in eight and 3-2 in nine at the 2009 regional at Marshall, Texas. . . Linfield has recorded 20 shutouts, including five consecutive in the postseason . . . weather at game time was partly cloudy and 82 degrees . . . statistically, Linfield’s 2.02 home runs per game compares favorably with the all-time marks in Division I (2.39 by Hawaii in 2010) and Division II (1.93, Mesa State in 2006). . . Linfield was held without a home run for the first time in nine games and only the fifth time this season.
IN OTHER GAMES: SUNY-Cortland blanked Luther (Iowa) 6-0 and Eastern Connecticut upended Messiah (Pa.) 4-2 in Saturday’s elimination games . . . Christopher Newport (Va.) trounced DePauw (Ind.) 11-3 in five innings in the late game. . . Sunday's pairings has DePauw meeting SUNY-Cortland in an elimination game and Texas-Tyler facing Christopher Newport in the winners bracket.
Two of the Wildcats' four hits
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