’Cats win first regional game in Texas

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Photo by Hans Ogren
Photo by Hans Ogren

Keith Mader
The Wildcat softball team won its first game in the NCAA D-III West Regional in Marshall, Texas, March 5.
The ’Cats, who are 36-4 this season, were recently ranked No. 1 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.
“We’ve had a really successful season, and that puts us in a great place going into regionals,” sophomore pitcher Elise Karscig said. “It’s important to remain confident and go into regionals with a team attitude.”
The West Regional is hosted by East Texas Baptist University.
“Before we left for Texas, we were just trying to take practices one at a time and focus on the task at hand,” Karscig said. “Those practices were critical to remain focused and to help us remember what we went into this season to do, [which was to] get to regionals and win it all at nationals.”
The NCAA selection committee announced On May 4 the 59 teams that will be participating in regionals around the country May 7.
Linfield has the No. 1 ranking in the regional tournament out of eight different teams, including Louisiana College, which holds the second seed, and The University of Redlands, which holds the fourth seed.
“Being the No. 1 seed definitely puts a target on our backs, but it doesn’t necessarily change the way we practice or go into a game,” Karscig said. “We are still going to go into nationals with the same attitude and intensity as we would any other game.”
All first-round sites will be in a double-elimination format.
“We are all in this season together,” Karscig said. “We are just trying to keep the end goal in mind and work together to achieve our goal of winning another national championship for the Linfield Wildcats.”
The ’Cats, being the first seed, had a bye for their first game. They faced the University of Redlands, which lost to Texas Tyler University earlier in the day May 7.
Freshman Staci Doucette’s three-run home run in the first inning started things off for the Wildcats. After that, things were quiet for both teams until the bottom of the fourth inning when Doucette got things moving again for the ’Cats, reaching second base on a throwing error by the second baseman. Sophomore Alex Hartmann’s bunt single moved Doucette to third base, and junior Candice Fujino’s double brought in both Hartmann and Doucette’s pinch runner freshman Brittany Woods, making the score 5-0 in Linfield’s favor.
Redlands had a four-run, two-out rally on four hits in the fifth inning to make the score 5-4. The ’Cats responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth off Hartmann’s single to center field to score junior outfielder Rochelle Friend.
In the bottom of the sixth, Linfield scored two runs on three hits, including an RBI single by freshman Jaydee Baxter and an RBI double by Friend.
The Bulldogs made their last stand in the bottom of the seventh but came up short, scoring only one run and ending the game 5-8 in favor of the Wildcats.
Senior Brittany Miller went the distance pitching all seven innings for the ’Cats, surrendering five runs on seven hits.
With the loss, Redlands was eliminated from the tournament, and the Wildcats move ahead to compete May 8.