May 22, 2010

By Dan Myers
Special to

EAU CLAIRE, Wis -- Linfield pieced together a hit batter, a pair of infield singles, and a pair of stolen bases in the top of the fifth inning, scoring the only two runs they would need in a 2-1 victory over DePauw in the first NCAA Division III softball semifinal game in the winner's bracket at Carson Park.

Candice Fujino led off the inning by getting hit on the forearm and was followed by Kayla Hubrich's infield bunt single. Rochelle Friend bunted those two into scoring position with a sacrifice, before Emilee Lepp singled to center to knock in the game's opening run. Staci Doucette -- Linfield's all-time home run leader -- followed with another infield single that scored Hubrich from third, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

That was all the help Claire Velaski would need on the mound, as she tossed seven innings, scattering five hits and allowing just one run. She also walked one and struck out two.

DePauw used back-to-back two out doubles in the sixth inning to score their lone run. Velaski got a ground ball out on the next hitter to escape further damage.

The victory pushed Velaski's record to 19-2 this season.

All-American pitcher Megan Soultz was outstanding as well, pitching all seven innings, allowing six hits, two runs and two walks while fanning two.

Linfield will play at 5 p.m. Sunday against either Christopher Newport or East Texas Baptist. The winner of that game will play for chance to win the national championship Monday afternoon.

DePauw moves to the elimination bracket and will face Eastern Connecticut State Sunday at noon.

LUTHER 4, ITHACA 0: In the elimination bracket, Lexy Determan pitched five strong innings, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out six Ithaca batters, leading Luther to a 4-0 victory over the Bombers. Ithaca was eliminated from the tournament while Luther advances to play at 2:30 p.m. Sunday against either Christopher Newport or East Texas Baptist.

The Norse scored a pair of runs in each the second and sixth innings, and got two strong innings of relief from Kim Lambert, who allowed a single walk and no hits over the final two innings.

Following back-to-back singles to open the second, Erin Crist doubled to center field knocking in a pair to pace Luther to a 2-0 lead.

Ithaca's Alyssa Brook settled down after that, not allowing another Luther hit until the sixth inning. It was in the sixth, however, that Luther added a pair of insurance runs. Mallory Broderick scored on a throwing error to make it 3-0 before Crist scored on one out single by Kayla Denner.

EASTERN CONNECTICUT STATE 3, MORAVIAN 0: In the elimination bracket, not even the weather could stop Eastern Connecticut State's Molly Rathbun.

Rathbun returned from an illness that caused her to miss Friday's start and was the difference for Warriors, tossing all seven innings and allowing just two baserunners in a 3-0 victory over Moravian, eliminating the Greyhounds.

The game was delayed for nearly 40 minutes in the second inning because of rain and lightning -- but when the game resumed, Rathbun made quick work of the Moravian offense. The Greyhounds didn't get a baserunner until the top of the fourth inning, when Rathbun allowed a two out walk to Shannen Mohr, but she struck out the next batter.

Jenna Carmon reached first with the 'Hounds' first hit of the afternoon when she singled down the left field line to lead off the fifth inning. But Rathbun struck out two of the next three hitters and coaxed a fly out to left to get out of the inning.

Rathbun struck out two hitters in the sixth inning and forced two foul outs in the seventh to nail down the win. She struck out 13 hitters on the afternoon, improving to 28-1 this season.

Ashley Sullivan knocked in all three runs for ECSU on a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Priscilla Alicea had three hits and Kassondra Silva added two hits for the Warriors.

ECSU will continue play at noon Sunday against DePauw.