Augustana College softball, the No. 3 seed in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament, came up short in its attempt at a clean sweep as No. 2 seed Winona State stayed alive with a 5-0 win to force a second game. The Warriors (46-7) came out on top 3-1 in the second game to with the 2014 NSIC Softball Tournament.
Winona State lost its opening round game of the NSIC Tournament but came all the way back to win six straight games, including four straight on Saturday, to win the tournament. No. 25 Augustana (43-13) was seeking its second NSIC Tournament title since joining the league in 2009 and found itself in the championship game of the conference tournament for the fourth time since 2010.
Augustana entered the week ranked fourth in the NCAA Central Region while Winona State was the No. 1 team in the latest set of regional rankings. The top eight teams in each region will advance to the NCAA Tournament, with the top two seeds in each region hosting a Super Regional.
The NCAA Division II Softball Selection Show will air via webcast at NCAA.com on Monday, May 5, at 9 a.m. Automatic bids will be awarded to the conference tournament winners from the NSIC, MIAA and the GAC with the final five spots awarded on an at-large basis.
Winona State's Ashley Walker (18-4) held Augustana hitless through 6.2 innings to earn her 18th win of the season in the circle. Offensively, Augustana could not find any green all game as the Vikings squared-up numerous pitches and hit them right at Winona State defenders.
The Warriors used a four-run bottom of the third inning to help down the Vikings. Winona State plated four unearned runs in the inning to take a 4-0 lead with the big blow coming on a two-out two-run home run by Jenny Nelson. Nelson finished the game 1 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Jenelle Trautmann (26-6) tossed 4.1 innings for the Vikings and was equally as tough in the circle for the Vikings. Trautmann allowed five runs, all unearned, on just three hits while striking out three batters.
The Warriors added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Shannon Nelson scored on a passed ball giving Winona State a 5-0 lead.
The Vikings got a threat going in the top of the sixth inning when Caitlin Nichol was hit by a pitch with one out in the inning. Mackenzie Alstott moved Nichol up to second on a sacrifice bunt and Sarah Kennedy picked up what looked to be an RBI single but Nichol was called out in the base path for interference after running into a Winona State fielder ending the threat.
Carly Peterson got a two-out double in the top of the seventh inning but it would not be enough as the Vikings would fall and have to play a second game against the Warriors.
Winona State's Hanna Lythberg struck out eight batters and allowed just one run on four hits to help the Warriors to the NSIC Tournament title in game two.
The Warriors finished the second game with eight hits, including two from Ashley Walker and Jenny Nelson. Nelson picked up her second home run of the day, another two-run shot that gave her team an early lead.
Nichol drove in Augustana's only run of the game and had two of the Vikings' four hits going 2 for 3 with an RBI double. Carley Pickett (15-6) was strong on the mound for the Vikings, striking out seven batters and allowing just three runs on eight hits.
Winona State took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run home run by Nelson. Pickett started off the inning with two straight strikeouts but after a walk Nelson was able to break through with a two-run shot.
The Vikings put two runners on in the top of the third inning after a two-out single by Nichol and Alstott getting hit by a pitch but the Warriors were able to strand both runners.
Winona State threatened in the bottom of the third getting three straight singles with one out but Pickett got the last two batters on a strikeout and a fly out.
After a quick fourth inning where both teams went down in order, the Vikings got another big two-out hit from Nichol to cut Winona State's lead in half. Erin Kempf started the rally by beating out an infield single and later stole second base to get into scoring position. Nichol then sent an RBI double to left field to make the score 2-1.
Winona State answered right back in the bottom of the fifth to go back up by two runs when Ashley Walker delivered an RBI single with two outs to put the Warriors up 3-1.
Augustana got a runner on in the top of the seventh inning when Jordan Schaffer was hit by a pitch but was unable to move the runner past third base watching its tournament title hopes come to an end.
Augustana's Jenelle Trautmann, Caitlin Nichol and Sarah Kennedy were all named to the 2014 NSIC Softball All-Tournament team.
The Vikings will wait for the NCAA Division II Softball Selection Show on Monday, May 5 at 9 a.m. to see where they will land in the Central Region Tournament.
Courtesy: Tim Evans, Sports Information Director, Augustana College