BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Kelly McGrail went 2-for-2 with a triple, homerun, three runs scored and two runs batted in to lead the Warhawks to a 6-5 win against Illinois Wesleyan in the first game of a NCAA Division III Super Regional. Eight two-team regionals are taking place at various sites across the nation. Each is formatted in a best-of-three or double elimination format with the advancing teams earning a trip to the NCAA Division III Championship in Tyler, Texas.
UW-Whitewater got on the board right off the bat. Kelly McGrail tripled to right field with one out and came in to score on a two-out double off the bat of Amy Ricci.
IWU evened the score in the bottom of the inning. A one-out single followed by a hit batter and double steal put runners on second and third with two outs. The next batter grounded out to second but registered the RBI to knot the score 1-1.
After a scoreless second inning, Samie Seamon opened the top of the third with a walk. Mimi Ramirez sacrifice bunted Seamon to second followed by a McGrail blast over the center field wall to give UW-W a 3-1 lead.
The Titans narrowed the gap with a solo homerun to left center to make the score 3-2 after four complete.
McGrail drew a walk to leadoff the top of the fifth. Ricci walked with one out to put two runners on and Paige Evangelista singled through the left side to load the bases. The Warhawks stayed true to what has worked all season, bringing in runs with two outs. Jo Jablonski tagged a line drive that hit the fence in center field for a bases clearing double to give UW-W a 6-2 lead.
Illinois Wesleyan did not fold negating the Warhawks' big inning with a three-run bottom of the inning. The Titans pushed three runners across and had runners on second and third when Bekka Houda took the mound in relief. The righty struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
Whitewater had two runners on in the sixth and one in the seventh but were unable to add to their total. The Titans threatened in the final two innings putting a runner on in each but Houda and the Warhawk defense shut down the IWU offense to seal the 6-5 win.
Six Warhawks registered hits in the game with McGrail leading the offense with a perfect performance at the plate.
Righthander Kelynn Sporer picked up the win to improve to 16-5 striking out two and walking two in 4.1 innings of work. Houda recorded the save with four strikeouts and one walk in 2.2 innings of relief.
The Warhawks will face the Titans in the second game of the super regional at 2 p.m. ET Saturday. If UW-W wins, it will advance to the NCAA III Championships in Tyler, Texas. If Illinois Wesleyan wins, there will be a decisive third game immediately after the first game Saturday to determine the super regional winner and the team to advance to the championship.