UNLV 5, RUTGERS 1
FORT COLLINS, CO – Jenny Bressler pitched a complete game, allowing three hits and two walks to go with seven strikeouts for No. 3-seeded UNLV, which stayed alive in the hunt for a championship round berth by topping Rutgers.
Mia Trejo hit a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning to give the Rebels (39-14) a 2-0 lead. Samantha Diaz’s solo home run in the second pushed UNLV up, 3-0, and April Visser tripled in Lauryn Barker to make it 4-0.
Kyleigh Sand put No. 7 Rutgers (25-30) on the scoreboard in the fifth inning with a groundout that brought in Maddie Lawson, closing the UNLV lead to 4-1. Samantha Diaz got the run back from UNLV in the bottom of the frame, doubling and scoring from third on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.
BOWLING GREEN 5, GEORGE WASHINGTON 3
FORT COLLINS, CO – Sarah Gonzalez hit a go-ahead solo home run in the fifth inning for Bowling Green, and Maycee Godbolt hit her third home run of the 2022 NISC in the sixth to provide some insurance as the Falcons got past George Washington on Monday.
Bowling Green (34-20) is still in the fight for a bid to the championship round and will face Kansas on Tuesday as the Super Regionals continues.
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning; Greta L’Esperance singled and scored on a double by Bailey Sample. GW countered in the top of the second, tying the game on a single by Valentina Perrone and a two-out triple by Sierra Lange.
Interestingly, L’Esperance and sample did the very same thing in the third inning to push Bowling Green ahead, 2-1.
Godbolt’s home run in the sixth put the Falcons up, 5-2. Looking to rally in the seventh, GW (36-17) scored a run on a sacrifice fly by Maddy Dwyer, but Bowling Green starter Payton Gottshall worked out of trouble with a flyout and popout.
KANSAS 8, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 0 (5)
FORT COLLINS, CO – Kansas used the long ball to jump ahead early Monday against Stephen F. Austin and never let up, earning a run-rule victory to stay in contention for a spot in the championship round of the 2022 NISC.
Kansas (18-35) will play George Washington or Bowling Green on Tuesday in the next round of the NISC Super Regionals.
Shayna Espy led off the game for Kansas in the bottom of the first and tripled to right-center, coming home when the throw from the outfield bounced into the third-base dugout. Olivia Bruno drilled a long two-run home run to center field to make it 3-0.
Ashlyn Anderson lifted a solo home run to left field in the third for KU, pushing the lead to 4-0. After a pitching change, the Jayhawks kept on coming, with Lyric Moore hitting a three-run homer to left-center as the lead grew to 7-0. Katie Brooks threw four innings for KU, striking out four with no walks allowed.
Stephen F. Austin (31-27) had just four hits, with Gaby Garcia getting two of them.
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
NORTH ALABAMA 9, UNLV 5
FORT COLLINS, CO — North Alabama assembled another potent offensive attack Sunday, moving past No. 3-seeded UNLV to advance in the 2022 NISC.
The Lions (40-18), who scored 18 runs Saturday in a win over Tarleton State, scored all nine their runs in the first four innings. Lexie Harper led off and reached on a error for North Alabama, coming around to score on a groundout by Georgia Land. The Lions plated three more runs in the second inning with RBI hits from Haven Kirby and Meleah Hargett.
The Rebels (38-14) came back with two runs in the bottom of the second, one on an error and the other on a sacrifice fly from Samantha Diaz.
North Alabama pulled ahead 5-2 when Sidney Bevis singled in Elena Escobar in the third inning. Kirby drove in another run later in the inning to push the Lions to a 7-2 advantage. Emma Broadfoot was another key contributor on the day with three hits, one a home run, and two RBI.
Mia Trejo countered for UNLV with a two-run blast in the bottom of the third, pulling the Rebels within 7-4 — that gave her the program’s career RBI mark (151). April Visser added a solo home run in the frame to make it 7-5. UNLV will play Rutgers on Monday in an elimination game.
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
BAYLOR 10, UC SAN DIEGO 2 (6)
FORT COLLINS, CO — Ana Watson hit a grand slam in the fourth inning, her first home run of the year, and Baylor pitchers allowed just five hits as the Bears topped UC San Diego to advance in the 2022 NISC.
Josie Bower hit a solo home run to center field in the second inning to start it up for Baylor (29-24), with Watson’s blast making it 5-0. The Tritons (28-27) bit into the lead in the top of the fifth — Alexa Demarse doubled to score Rilley Erickson, and a Kelley Renner single drove in Morgan Eng to make it 5-2.
UCSD loaded bases with one out in the sixth inning, but Baylor reliever Kaci West notched a strikeout and a grounder to first to end the threat.
Baylor extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk and an RBI single from Aliyah Binford. An outfield error with the bases loaded plated three more runs for Baylor to invoke the run rule. UC San Diego will play Tarleton State on Monday in an elimination game.
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 5, KANSAS 4 (8)
FORT COLLINS, CO — Tremere Harris reached base in the bottom of the eighth, got all the way to third base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single from Reagan Sperling as Central Arkansas slipped past Kansas in Sunday’s second game of the 2022 NISC.
With Harris on third, Kansas intentionally walked two runners to load the bases, but Sperling bounced a single over the head of the pitcher to drive in Harris. The Sugar Bears, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, moved to 36-20 on the year.
Kansas, which entered the 2022 NISC as the No. 12 seed, will play Monday in an elimination game against Stephen F. Austin.
Kansas (17-35) loaded the bases to start the top of the first inning with a single and two walks; Olivia Bruno walked to bring in a run, and Savanna DesRochers drove in two runs with a single, and that prompted a pitching change by Central Arkansas. Kayla Beaver doused the threat with three straight strikeouts for the Sugar Bears, and they responded right back in the bottom of the frame with a three-run homer from Jaylee Englkes.
In the top of the seventh, Kansas got a single from Bruno, and another runner reached when Haleigh Harper was hit by a pitch with one out. Beaver struck out the next batter, and after a groundout, the margin was still 4-3 for KU. Beaver allowed six hits on the day to go with eight strikeouts in eight innings of work.
In the bottom of the seventh, Sperling reached first, was sacrificed to second and took third on a groundout. She scored on an error to shortstop, tying the game at 4-all.
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
VIRGINIA 10, BOWLING GREEN 2 (5)
FORT COLLINS, CO — Molly Grube allowed one hit over four innings to get the win for Virginia, and the Cavaliers bashed out four home runs and seven extra-base hits overall in taking down Bowling Green to advance in the 2022 NISC.
Top-seeded Virginia (28-24) got two home runs from Katie Goldberg, including a two-run, two-out blast over the left field fence for the final margin of victory.
Goldberg got the Cavaliers off to a great start with a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning. Sarah Coon hit a solo homer in the third inning, and after a pitching change by Bowling Green, Tori Gilbert followed with another home run to right-center to make the score 5-0.
Goldberg and Coon delivered more offensive punch in the fourth inning — Goldberg’s double brought in Arizona Ritchie, and Coon’s double drove in two more runners, Kailyn Jones and Goldberg.
Sarah Gonzalez got Bowling Green (33-20) on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth with a double that brought in Lexi Carver, making the score 8-1. The Falcons will face George Washington on Monday in an elimination game.
2022 NISC bid a sign Cavaliers ready for more ACC notice
By Kyle Koso
The 2022 season has looked familiar to the Virginia softball program in many respects, mainly in how the competition in the ACC is next to unrelenting, and the Cavaliers have had to scuffle hard to earn their place.
But some fresh light is shining through as the team secured a 27-24 overall record, its first above .500 since 2012. The resume was sturdy enough to earn the No. 1 seed for the 2022 NISC, and the Cavaliers will start the push for this national title Sunday against Bowling Green at the TC Colorado Field.
Head coach Joanna Hardin is six years into her run at UVA, barely into her 30’s when she took the job. After practice Friday, she talked about the temperament mix the program balances these days, trying to work calmly toward goals but also knowing it may be time to jump forward in expectations.
“The last five years have been a lot about patience - there’s a chapter out of the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water’ that talks about bamboo. Even when you plant and care for bamboo, it takes five years for the roots to sprout and to actually start growing,” said Hardin, whose team gave national powerhouse Florida State a scare in the first round of the ACC Tournament before falling short, 5-3. “When you build something that is sustainable and long-lasting, that takes a lot of time. We live in a world where we want results now, and that’s the world of athletics and coaching. I feel like we’ve got the roots and foundation, and we are where I projected us to be.
“But we aren’t ‘there’ wherever ‘there’ is — but with a young roster and the mentality of the athletes we’ve recruited who are competitive and have come from winning programs, it’s (promising). Past teams have worked hard to build this, and this team has reaped the benefits of what’s been happening under the surface. There were days for me personally and for a lot of our team where you question if it’s worth it. With the transfer portal right there, the temptation to think the grass will be greener somewhere else … it’s so rewarding to have these young women and a coaching staff be true and stick with you with the vision.”
What jumps out about Virginia is the cluster of young players who are productive in the moment and projecting an energy that makes it feel like much more can happen. Sarah Coon was named to the league’s all-freshman team after hitting .280 with six home runs; sophomore Leah Boggs hit .293 to lead the team, and redshirt freshman Lauren VanAssche closed at .273. All of them were effective base stealers as well.
In the circle, three sophomores got important starts through the year in Mikayla Houge, Savanah Henley and Madison Harris.
“You can think about the future with these athletes — our sophomores were fine last year, but they’ve really developed themselves this year,” Hardin said. “There’s a lot of youth, and it’s exciting to see them take ownership and play significant roles. It’s gratifying to see the recruits come in and contribute the way we projected them to; the next couple classes should be more of the same.”
The typical route for a pitching staff is to have one or two starters lead the way in terms of innings pitched — Virginia had seven different players start games this season, and no one topped 100 innings. It might not always be this way, as Hardin says the window is there for someone to emerge as an anchor, but for now the mix of options is stirring up trouble for opponents.
“We’ve pitched by committee the last couple years. Injuries played into a bit, it’s not like was our philosophy or anything we recruited to … we ride the hot hand, and then there are matchups,” she said. “We pay a lot of attention to the scouting of our opponents, and we have pitchers that throw down, some that throw up in zone, good changeups … opportunities will go to what matches up the best and then we back up the started with who complements her really well.
“We like to give as many different looks as possible. That opportunity is there (for a rotation anchor). We always tell the team, stay ready and stay hungry, never know when that opportunity will present itself.”
Indeed, Molly Grube didn’t even throw for Virginia for a chunk of the early season, yet she notched the win April 15 against No. 2 Virginia Tech with 6 2/3 stellar innings.
Virginia will try to press forward, get a few more concrete accomplishments in the backpack while giving the roster the right amount of oxygen to keep growing as the challenges got as well.
“This tournament is so integral in our growth and development as a program,” Hardin added. “It’s the first postseason they’ve ever experienced, many have just had one ACC tournament — the mindset you need to play late, practice on different fields, pitching and practicing deeper into May, you’ve got to experience it for it to become normal. We are grateful that our administration is so supportive and given us this opportunity, as it elevates expectations in our program. As a young team, it helps set the standard, and this can become the norm now.”
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
NORTH ALABAMA 18, TARLETON STATE 15
FORT COLLINS, CO -- North Alabama came back from an 11-2 deficit, scoring 14 runs in the third and fourth innings combined, allowing the Lions to work past Tarleton State in Saturday's final game of the 2022 NISC.
The 33 runs scored by both teams was the most ever for an NISC game. North Alabama (39-18) will face UNLV on Sunday in the winner's half of the double-elim bracket; Tarleton State (29-24) will play Monday in the loser's half.
Emma Broadfoot scored four runs for the Lions. North Alabama got three hits and five RBI from Haven Kirby; the Texans saw Georgia Cappell finish with three hits and six RBI. The Texans scored four runs over the final two innings to draw closer, including a home run from Cappell.
Photo by Jayson Ortiz
UC SAN DIEGO 7, RUTGERS 5
FORT COLLINS, CO — Deena Pederson hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the sixth inning cap a rally by UC San Diego, which moved past Rutgers in Game 3 of the 2022 NISC.
This is the first year of Division-I competition for UC San Diego.
The leadoff hitter in the order, Pederson worked a full count against Rutgers reliever Ashley Hitchcock and hit one up the middle to score Morgan Eng and Alexa Demarse to pull the Tritons ahead, 6-5. A solo home run from Isabel Lavrov in the top of the seventh provided some breathing room to make it 7-5.
Kaia Simpson threw 4 2/3 innings of quality relief work for UC San Diego (28-26), which will face second-seeded Baylor on Sunday in the winner’s hall of the double-elim bracket. Rutgers (25-29) will play Monday in the loser’s half.
Rutgers jumped ahead 1-0 in the second inning as Taylor Fawcett hit a two-out double. Katie Wingert followed with a single to right-center to bring in the run; the Scarlett Knights made it 4-0 in the third, starting with a solo home run from Payton Lincavage. That was followed by a two-run shot off the bat of Kayla Bock.
UC San Diego responded in a big way, rapping out five hits in the top of the fifth inning and culminating with a three-run homer by Bobbi Aguirre that cut the Rutgers lead to 5-4.