LOUISVILLE, Ky. — If Kutztown head coach Judy Lawes could sum up her Golden Bears’ 1-0 victory in one word against UC San Diego, the reigning NCAA Division II Softball Champions, it would be “tremendous”.
Kutztown (52-5) battled 12 long, grueling innings with the Tritons (42-22), before pitcher Samantha Derr hit a walk-off single to left field, to bring the Golden Bears to its second consecutive shutout of the NCAA Division II Championship.
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The Golden Bears are ranked third in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top 25 poll. Additionally, KU’s 52 wins are a school record.
“That was a huge win for us,” Lawes said. “We didn’t get the runs when we wanted but we still managed to pull it out. Sam was unstoppable and phenomenal on the mound. We still have a ways to go but it was a well-fought game.”
KU had three of its eight hits in the 12th inning. Senior Kelly Fitzgerald led off with a double to left field as junior Katie Lynch singled to center field to put the Golden Bears in scoring position. Derr’s patience paid off big time as she singled up the middle off a 1-0 count to close the game.
“I walked up to the plate and was mad,” Derr said. “I had missed an earlier opportunity to score a run for us. I just cleared my head and told myself that I had to put the ball in play and make something happen.”
Kutztown had a chance to score in the seventh inning. Lynch was on third base and proceeded home but the Triton’s defense turned a double play to throw Morgan Booth out at first and Lynch out at the plate.
Derr, Fitzgerald, and Lynch led the Golden Bears’ offense, finishing with two hits each. Kelly Strittmatter and Booth recorded one hit.
Derr’s presence on both the mound and at the plate has been one of Kutztown’s biggest strengths during the 2012 season. Derr allowed just three hits and recorded eight strikeouts. She improved to 30-3 on the season. She notched her 13th shutout of the season and her 30 wins are a KU single-season record.
Camille Gaito fell to 30-11 and finished with a game-high 10 strikeouts.