DULUTH, Minn. – The St. Scholastica softball team came from four runs down on Saturday to defeat Northwestern College 6-4 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament championship game at Kenwood Field and, in doing so, earns the conference's automatic qualifier into next week's NCAA Tournament.
This will be the second time in program history the Saints will be going to the NCAA Tournament as they first did it in 2006.
Northwestern took a 2-0 lead after the first inning with a two-out double by Lauren Walker. The Eagles extended the lead to 4-0 in the top of the second after scoring on a CSS error and Jenna Ruby driving in a run with a single.
After that pitcher Jen Falk (Altona, Manitoba/W.C. Miller Collegiate (Rainy River CC)) settled down, allowing just one it over the final five innings. However, the CSS offense needed to pick Falk up. The Saints had just one hit through three innings, but in the fourth inning, Tiffany Hudack (Ashland, Wis./Ashland HS) drove in Theresa Tauer (Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata HS) on a RBI double. Falk then helped herself at the plate with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring pinch runner Shauney Moen (Cedar, Minn./St. Francis HS) to make it 4-2.
The Saints came to bat in the sixth and leadoff hitter Kali Carlson (Duluth, Minn/Duluth Central HS) got on with a bunt single. Tauer and Hudack each followed with singles to left to load the bases.
That brought up Falk, who put the Saints in front with a two-run double in the sixth inning against Bethany Lutheran yesterday. Today, Falk would come through again hitting a shot just over the head of the right fielder to clear the bases and give the Saints a 5-4 lead. Jordan Spiering (Mounds View, Minn./Irondale HS) added insurance with a single up the middle to drive in Falk and make it 6-4.
Falk dominated the Eagles in the top of the seventh getting the first batter to pop up to shortstop and then striking out the next two batters to clinch the tournament title and a spot in next week's NCAA Tournament.
The Saints improve to 28-13 this season, while the Eagles' season will end with a record of 20-22. The UMAC Tournament title is the third consecutive for the Saints and their 12th overall.
The NCAA Tournament will begin next week with regional play beginning on Thursday. The announcement and pairings of the field of 60 will be streamed live on NCAA.com at 11 a.m. local time Monday morning.
Courtesy: CSS Athletics