RUTGERS 2, APPALACHIAN STATE 1
LYNCHBURG, VA – Katie Wingert led off the bottom of the sixth inning for Rutgers with a long home run to left field, and starting pitcher Whitney Jones threw a complete-game five-hitter for the Scarlet Knights.
Freshman Aleah Marra knocked in an insurance run in the sixth inning as Rutgers (29-24) prevailed in its first postseason game since 1994. The Knights will face host Liberty later Thursday (4 p.m. ET).
In the top of the seventh, Jones (12-13) got two quick outs with a liner and groundout to third base. Laura Sales got on base with a single, but the final out came on a popout to first base.
The Mountaineers (31-24) had a chance to break through in the top of the fourth, as Allison Durrence’s single put runners on first and third with one out. But one-hop shot to third was handled by Rutgers’ Myah Moy, and the inning ended on a flyout to left field. Durrence had two hits for the game.
PURDUE 4, SOUTH DAKOTA 3 (8)
AMES, IA – Purdue reliever Maddie Damon threw 5 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing the Boilermakers to rally in the later stages, with the game ending in the eighth inning on a bases-loaded one-out single from Sydney Bates.
Purdue (32-27) will face host Iowa State later on Thursday.
Rachel Becker and Mallory Baker opened the bottom of the eighth with singles, and Jenny Behan walked. After a fielder’s choice at home for the first out, Bates came through with the deciding blow.
Purdue stitched together a rally in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at 3-all on a single from Kaitlynn Moody. Halle Hixenbaugh hit a two-out single that threatened to bring in the winning run, but Bates was thrown out at the plate.
In the third inning, South Dakota got a two-out double from Jamie Holshcer that drove in Ashtyn Blakeman for the Coyotes’ first run. That was followed by another double, from Dustie Durham, that brought in two more runs and pushed South Dakota ahead, 3-1.
Purdue got on the board thanks to an RBI single from Kaeley Hallada in the second inning, and Moody’s hit in the third cut the South Dakota lead to 3-2.
Alexis Devers threw bravely for South Dakota (33-27), going for 136 pitches and working around 14 hits and six walks.
GEORGE WASHINGTON 4, MARSHALL 1
LYNCHBURG, VA – George Washington broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the top of the fifth inning, earning the victory over Marshall in its first postseason game in program history.
The Colonials (43-16) advance to face Kent State later Thursday. Standout pitcher Sierra Lange was terrific for GW, earning her 30th victory of the season and ringing up three hits, pushing her batting average up to .420.
George Washington got some help for its first run, thanks to a catcher’s interference call, but the bats got cooking on three straight RBI singles from Jenna Cone, Lange and Priscilla Martinez.
Marshall (39-21) put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth, but Lange ended the threat with a strikeout and a groundout to third base. In the sixth, the Thundering Herd finally pushed across a run on a ground-rule double from Sierra Huerta, but Marshall’s hopes for a seventh-inning rally ended on a lineout double play.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 8, EASTERN KENTUCKY 6
AMES, IA – A trio of home runs paved the way for South Dakota State, and starting pitcher Kendra Conard tossed a complete-game for the Jackrabbits.
South Dakota State (37-17) tied the game at 2-all after a two-run homer from Lyndsey Crist in the fifth inning, and Mallory McQuistan came through in the sixth with a three-run shot, her third hit of the contest. Conard (18-5) allowed three earned runs as the SDSU defense struggled through four errors.
Eastern Kentucky (34-21) cut the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Brooke Harrison doubled in Zoe Mihalicz for an unearned run. However, the Jackrabbits got some breathing room in the top of the seventh on a three-run homer from Ali Herdliska.
That turned out to be an important swing for the Jackrabbits, as EKU came back to score three times in the bottom of the seventh. Erica Bowers drove in two runs with a single, and Harrison drove in one more on a groundout.
LIBERTY 1, RUTGERS 0
LYNCHBURG, VA – Chase Cassady pitched a four-hit shutout and struck out nine batters as Liberty (the 2017 champions of the NISC) fought off Rutgers.
Liberty (38-20) scored the game’s only run on a two-out bases-loaded walk to Jaclyn Amader in the third inning. The Flames had three hits as Rutgers starter Corah Price also excelled, allowing two walks to go with five strikeouts.
The Flames will face either Kent State or George Washington on Friday in the next round.
Rutgers (29-25) allowed just two runs on Thursday in two games; the Knights will play Marshall on Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
MCNEESE STATE 7, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 3
NACOGDOCHES, TX – McNeese State pitcher Alexsandra Flores didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning as the Cowgirls sped past Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
McNeese State (31-30) will play the winner between Stephen F. Austin and UT Arlington in the next round. The Cowgirls scored twice in the first inning, then broke it open with four runs in the fourth, stealing five bases in the contest. Aubree Turbeville had two RBI.
Middle Tennessee (29-29) finally touched up Flores (14-12) with some production as Savannah Freeman doubled to lead off the sixth inning; she then scored on a single from Summer Burgess. The Raiders scored twice in the seventh inning on a two-run hit from Ryan King.
IOWA STATE 6, PURDUE 1
AMES, IA – Emma Hylen allowed five hits in a complete game effort as the Cyclones worked past Purdue.
Iowa State (33-23) will face South Dakota State in the next round, Friday at 1 p.m. CT.
Hylen struck out four and walked two as she moved to 16-9 on the season. Sami Williams had four hits, three of them doubles, and scored three runs. The Cyclones had a 3-1 lead then put the game away with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Kaylee Bosworth and Sydney Stites each drove in a run.
Purdue (32-28) scored its run in the third inning, as Jenny Behan doubled in Rachel Becker.
FRESNO STATE 18, UC RIVERSIDE 10 (5)
RENO, NV – Fresno State scored nine runs in the first inning and finished just one run short of the NISC single-game record, piling up the runs in a game shortened by the run rule.
Fresno State (37-18) got four hits and three RBI from Kaitlyn Jennings, and Vanessa Hernandez also had three RBI. Schuylar Broussard had three hits; the Bulldogs combined to hit four home runs. Fresno State will face either Nevada or Loyola Marymount on Friday in the winner’s bracket.
UC Riverside (26-26) showed some potent offense as well but struggled in the field and had seven errors. Emma Ramelot had a three-run homer.
UT ARLINGTON 7, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 0
NACOGDOCHES, TX – Randi Phillips threw six innings and allowed just five hits, and UT Arlington made an early lead stand up against Stephen F. Austin.
The UT Arlington lead extended to 4-0 on a sacrifice fly from Reagan Wright in the third inning. Laura Curry drove in Whitney Walton to make it 5-0 in the fifth. Avery Grimes doubled in K.J. Murphy in the sixth, and Walton followed with an RBI single to make it 7-0.
UT Arlington (31-26) will play McNeese State in Friday’s Round 2 game at 3 p.m. CT. Stephen F. Austin (35-22) takes on Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. CT.
NEVADA 4, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 3
RENO, NV – Kali Sargent pitched a complete game, allowing four hits and striking out five, as Nevada held off Loyola Marymount, the defending champions of the NISC.
Nevada (28-25) scored a run in the first inning on a double by Dallas Millwood, and the Wolf Pack struck again in the third on a Kenzi Goins single. Another run came across on a single from Alyssa Mendez. LMU countered with a two-run homer by Delanie Wisz, drawing the Lions (35-19) within 3-2.
Millwood struck again in the fifth inning, hitting another double to plate Goins and make the score 4-2. But LMU’s Wisz was up to the challenge, stroking another home run in the sixth to make it a 4-3 lead for Nevada.
The Wolf Pack will play Fresno State on Friday at 1 p.m. PT in Round 2, and LMU faces UC Riverside in a rematch of last year’s championship game.
KENT STATE 7, GEORGE WASHINGTON 2
LYNCHBURG, VA – Andrea Scali pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out nine to move to 22-8 on the year and send Kent State past George Washington.
Jen Cader gave Kent State (28-24) some early breathing room with a three-run homer in the second inning. The score moved to 5-0 on a fielder’s choice by Maria Cegledy, and Megan Turner’s home run made it 7-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Kent State will play Liberty in Friday's Round 2 game at 4 p.m. ET.
Elena Shelepak doubled in two runs to get the Colonials (43-17) on the board in the fourth.