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TYLER, Texas – Just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Linfield Wildcats happened Friday during their opening game of the NCAA Division III Tyler Regional at UT-Tyler Ballpark.
Kicking recent history to the curb, Redlands blanked Linfield 3-0 to break a 13-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
Three errors, two base runners caught stealing, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, and even stoppages of play to tend to injuries, an equipment malfunction and adjustment of a contact lens.
It all added up to a disappointing and head-scratching defeat that sends Linfield (36-7) into a must-win contest Saturday against host Texas-Tyler at 9 a.m. PDT. Redlands (36-10) faces East Texas Baptist in a winners bracket game immediately following.
Kayla Uphold pitched the Bulldogs to the five-hit shutout, earning her 24th win of the season. And though she managed just two strikeouts, the Redlands all-star kept the Wildcats on their heels throughout.
Linfield snatched the early momentum when Grace Middelstadt (Jr., Battle Ground, Wash.) singled and stole second base to lead off the Wildcats’ first series of at bats. But Uphold got Karleigh Prestianni to ground out and Lisa Yamamoto (Jr., Carson City, Nev.) popped up into the glove of Amanda Clark for the third out.
The wheels fell off the Linfield wagon in the third inning. Three costly errors enabled Kristen Hooper to score what proved to be the winning run.
It began innocently enough as Hooper reached base on a fielding error by shortstop Katy Brosig (Sr., Forest Grove, Ore.). But Brosig’s off-target throw from her knees to first base sailed high over the glove of Haylie Watson (Sr., Puyallup, Wash.) and Hooper easily trotted to second. Uphold then singled a 1-1 fastball through the left side of the infield to put runners at first and third. Catcher McKenna Spieth (Jr., Vancouver, Wash.) then attempted to pick off Uphold at second, but the throw was also high, opening the door for Hooper to reach home.
“We made some mistakes and gave them opportunities,” said Wildcats coach Jackson Vaughan “Redlands is scrappy and they force you into making mistakes.”
Wildcats starter Karina Paavola (Sr., Kelso, Wash.) looked ready to find her rhythm in the fourth inning, striking out Sarah Beeman swinging at a 0-2 pitch to lead off the inning. Redlands followed with singles by Vicki King and Nikoli Sharp, putting two runners aboard with one out. Hooper drew a walk off Paavola, loading the bases, and a single by Uphold made it 2-0. The bases remained loaded, and a Paavola pitch struck Clark, forcing home yet another run.
In the sixth, the Wildcats had their best opportunity to turn the tide. Megan Wallo and Prestianni each singled with one out and a wild pitch enabled the runners to advance to second and third. But Uphold got Yamamoto to strike out and Ashley Garcia (Sr., Beaveton, Ore.) grounded out to end the inning.
Uphold and King each went 2 for 3 to lead a seven-hit Redlands attack.
No Wildcat had more than one hit. Even Erin Carson (Jr., Camas, Wash.), whose .496 batting average led the Northwest Conference, went without a hit.
Paavola dropped to 22-3. The junior righthander threw 102 pitches in seven innings of action, striking out three and walking two.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Temperature at game time was 76 degrees. . . the Wildcats saw their seven-game win streak halted. . . Linfield leads the all-time series with Redlands 20-7. . . before Friday, the Bulldogs’ last win over the Wildcats came in the 2007 NCAA regional playoffs. . . the Wildcats were held without an extra-base hit.
IN OTHER GAMES: Top seed UT-Tyler downed sixth-seeded Southwestern (Texas) 4-1. . . East Texas Baptist knocked off Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 3-0 . . . Southwestern rallied from a 4-0 deficit to surprise CMS 7-5 in Friday’s late elimination game.
Coach Jackson Vaughan
'We gave Redlands opportunities'
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128