Indiana (Pa.) captures Super Regional
Ward's seventh-inning home run leads Crimson Hawks to win
INDIANA, Pa. -- Indiana (Pa.) scored in only two of the 14 innings played at the NCAA Division II Atlantic Super Regional, but fortunately for the Crimson Hawks they both resulted in seventh inning rallies and the program’s first-ever appearance in the Division II Softball Championship.
Freshman third baseman Mary Ward slammed a two-run homer over the fence in center with one out in the top of the seventh to give IUP a 2-1 victory against Bloomsburg and a trip to Salem, Va.
Play begins May 26 with the Crimson Hawks taking on the winner of the Southeast Super Regional, either Lenoir-Rhyne or North Georgia. Lenoir-Rhyne leads that best-of-three series 1-0 with game 2 scheduled for later Saturday.
The victory gave IUP (38-6) its 11th win in as many postseason games, extended the team’s winning streak to 13 consecutive and enabled the Crimson Hawks to match the school record for wins in a season which was accomplished last year when IUP finished 38-12 in its first year under head coach Bill Graham.
Bloomsburg, the defending region champion, finished its season with a record of 33-8. The Crimson Hawks defeated the Huskies twice in a span of 24 hours over the weekend after posting only four wins in 59 all-time meetings entering the Super Regional.
IUP trailed 1-0 for most of the game after Husky catcher Lacy Mauro homered to center off Erin Holloway to lead off the bottom of the first. The Crimson Hawks had chances early against Shauvan Fisher, loading the bases with one out in the third and also getting their leadoff hitter on in the fourth and sixth but were unable to break through.
In game one of the tournament Friday, IUP came through with three runs in the seventh, including a two-run, game-winning single by Dee Eppinger, to claim a 3-2 win. For the Crimson Hawks to avoid a deciding third game, they would once again need to rally in their final turn at bat.
The door opened when Raquel Rugani grounded a one-out single up the middle and was pinch ran for by Taylor Rozantz. Ward, who had only three hits in 24 official at bats during the postseason, drove a 1-0 pitch out for her third – and by far biggest – home run of the season.
Holloway finished off Bloomsburg with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, winning her 27th game of the season against only three losses, including all 11 postseason victories. The senior righthander struck out four and walked one and moved within seven of 1,000 career strikeouts with at least two more games remaining.
Holloway also moved within one win of matching her IUP season record of 28 set a year ago. In addition to the school career strikeout record, she brings IUP marks for wins (78), complete games (103), shutouts (32) and innings pitched (790 2-3) to the College World Series.
Other than IUP’s two scoring innings, Fisher had an outstanding two games in the circle for the Huskies. The senior struck out nine Saturday and 16 over the weekend and finished the season with a record of 19-7.