ST. GEORGE, Utah -- With a chance at the national finals on the line, Dixie State second baseman Nicole Chavez knew a play had to be made.
As commonly happens when a player wants the ball, they get it. With two runners on, with one out, Chavez caught a line drive and threw out a runner at third base, preserving a 5-4 Dixie win against Cal State Monterey Bay in Game 2 of the NCAA West Super Regional.
"We talk a lot about where [players] can get outs," Dixie State coach Randy Simkins said. "There's always another play to be made, and we talk a lot about that. There's always another throw to be made, there's always another runner."
Chavez scored in the first inning on a Courtney Sherwin sacrifice bunt, giving Dixie an early 1-0 lead. The Otters scored two runs in the third inning, with both Brianne Hollon and Courtney Varela scoring to temporarily give Monterrey Bay a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Dixie first baseman Sheila Gelter hit an RBI single to score Courtney Hine to tie the score 2-2. Then, Dixie added three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-2 lead.
"I was really impressed with us, right after they took the lead, we came back and tied it," Simkins said. "Because if we come back and throw a zero up on the board and let them play with the lead, their confidence just grows and grows and grows. I was really impressed with us coming back to get a run that inning."
With the Red Storm leading by three runs at the top of the seventh, CSU Monterey Bay made one final attempt at a comeback. With the bases loaded, and one out, Alissa Greenhaw doubled to left field to score two runs, with the go-ahead run on second base. It was at that moment that the ball came to Chavez, and her play sent Dixie State to its second championships appearance in school history.
"Honestly, I guess I could have had an out at second, but I just went straight at third," said Chavez, who also had a hit and scored a run in the game. "I saw I had a play at third, so I just went right to it. It was an awesome feeling."
Michelle Duncan earned the win, moving her record to 20-1 and Aryn Feickert picked up her second save in relief. Between the two games, Duncan pitched more than 15 innings. The Otters' Cori Reinhardt earned the loss, falling to 21-9 on the season.
Dixie's Josey Hartman finished with two hits on the day.
The Red Storm will open the NCAA final site with a game on Thursday against Southeastern Oklahoma in Salem, Virginia