Wisconsin-Whitewater drops first game of day, wins second to advance
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Wisconsin-Whitewater defeated Illinois Wesleyan 6-3 on Saturday to win the super regional and advance to the NCAA Division III championship. The first team to six won and the designated visiting team won each game of the super regional. The Warhawks won the series opener 6-5 before falling to the Titans 6-3 in the first championship game Saturday afternoon. UW-W came back with a 6-3 win in the decisive third game to advance to Tyler, Texas, for the eight-team championship.
In the first game Saturday, a grand slam bolstered a five-run fourth inning to lead IWU to the win. Mimi Ramirez, Kelly McGrail, Jo Jablonski and Chelsey Schobert each registered two hits in the game. Bekka Houda was credited with the loss on the mound.
With a trip to Tyler, Texas, for the national championship on the line, the scoreboard was cleared and the teams traded dugouts with IWU moving to their usual home on the third base line. The Warhawks, designated as the visitor in the final game of the series occupied the first-base dugout.
The Warhawks stranded one runner in the top of the first but used a double play defensively to get back on offense. A line drive to right field was snagged by Paige Evangelista on the run. She fired to first and a stretch by Morgan Krisch beat the runner diving back into the bag.
Evangelista led off the top of the second with a walk. With one out, Krisch's hard bunt went through the charging defense for a base hit. Schobert and Samie Seamon notched back-to-back singles to drive in one run and leave the bases loaded but the IWU defense took a page from Whitewater's book doubling off the Warhawks on a line drive.
UW-W added two more to their total in the top of the fourth. Schobert singled with one out and Seamon's double to right center put two runners in scoring position. Ramirez grounded out to second but posted the RBI as Schobert touched the plate and Seamon advanced to third. McGrail followed with another double to right center for the second RBI of the inning to give Whitewater a 3-0 lead.
The Titans struck back in their half of the inning. A homer over the centerfield wall scored two and cut the lead to 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, Krisch stepped into the batter's box with two outs. After struggling at the plate the previous two games, Krisch showed perseverance and the importance one pitch can make. She tagged a high fly ball that sailed clear over the right field fence and touched all of the bases for the eventual deciding run in the game. Her homer broke the program record for homeruns in a season with 14 and gave UW-W a 4-2 lead in the game.
IWU wasn't done offensively, as the Titans responded with a round-tripper of their own in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, Jablonski drew a leadoff walk. Evangelista got all of a high pitch sending the ball over the scoreboard in left field to give the Warhawks a 6-3 cushion.
Seamon made the first two outs on fly balls to left field in the bottom of the seventh and Eichenold chased down a fly ball in foul territory for the final out of the game.
McGrail went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI and was named the most outstanding player of the super regional. The senior second baseman was also named the MOP of the regional last weekend in Chicago. Krisch, Schobert and Seamon each notched two hits in the game and combined for three runs and two runs batted in.
Kelynn Sporer registered the win to improve to 17-5 this season. She pitched four innings allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out one. Houda came in for three innings of relief striking out one and walking one to earn the save, her second of the season. Houda was named the super regional's most outstanding pitcher.
UW-Whitewater will travel to Tyler, Texas, for the NCAA Division III championship hosted by Texas-Tyler May 22-27. The eight-team championship is set in double elimination format. This is the first year since 2008 the Warhawks have advanced to the NCAA championship. UW-W finished second that season.