Wildcats knock regional tournament out of the park

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The Wildcats sliding into an after championship team photo.

The Wildcats sliding into an after championship team photo.

Fiona Kelley

Fiona Kelley

The Wildcats sliding into an after championship team photo.

Alex Jensen, Sports Editor

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The Linfield dugout swarmed the field falling over one another curtailing into a doggy pile on the pitchers’ circle. The Wildcats have done it. They have just become regional champs sweeping the tournament with a 2-1 win over the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athens and a 9-1 win against the George Fox Bruins.

Fiona Kelley
Junior pitcher Shelby Saylor received most outstanding player of the regional tournament award from the NCAA.

Junior pitcher Shelby Saylors was named the most outstanding player of the regional playoffs. She pitched the entirety of the tournament for the ‘Cats playing a total of 17 innings in the circle. She faced 63 batters and only gave up three walks total in the whole tournament.

“It feels pretty good and I think it was just a team effort and you know we were all just hitting and being able to make plays,” Saylor said about being regional champs.

The Wildcats only allowed one run in each game of the series.

In the championship game the ‘Cats once again were the first to get on the board. Junior Darian Stedman singled to right field advancing sophomore Kelsey Wilkinson to third and senior Cheyenne Fletcher to come home.

Wilkinson was on base as a pinch runner for senior Melanie Oord who singled to right field.

“It feels pretty good to win a regional title our senior year for sure,” Oord said. “We didn’t have as many runs as we would’ve

hoped to kind’ve insurance runs, but we knew that Shelby was pitching great and just to keep on it defensively and knew we could get it done”

Both Linfield’s defense and CMS’ were the ruling component in the game. Neither team let many offensive moves to develop. For three straight innings the board stayed silent.

But in the top of the fifth things almost looked to get away from the ‘Cats. With the sun setting the light shinned right in sophomore third baseman Chelsea Horita’s eye line. She missed a catch allowing CMS to get on first. But then an overthrow from Horita in the next play advanced the baserunner to third.

“Oh, that was not good that’s why I kind’ve got one of the errors. It was a little bit of a miscommunication between me and Mak [Makenna Clizer] because I wasn’t sure who was going to get it. And as soon as I looked up the sun was right in my face” Horita said about the error in the top of the fifth.

Athens Reeve Grobec flied out to left field senior Jacinda Swiger was unable to make the catch because of the sun she then threw a long dirt pass to senior catcher Emily Allen. The CMS runner on third, Jessica Fox, was able to come in for the run.

Going into the bottom of the fifth after having a wobbly top of the inning hope was needed from the ‘Cats to keep them in the game. And hope was indeed brought when Fletcher took that full count under her belt and belted the ball out of the park upping the score to 2-1.

Fletcher’s homer and Saylor’s pitching sealed the game for the ‘Cats.

“It’s awesome that we can just keep playing as a team, especially our senior class because we want to go all the way. And today was just really awesome Shelby did amazing and Chey came out big with that last homerun. I’m just really excited,” Senior first baseman Woodruff said.

Fiona Kelley
Senior Melanie Oord base run.

The final outs of the tournament came from a caught flied ball to left field from Kawai Scanla and a popped one to second base from Fox. The tournament winning out came from Rachel Perle grounding out to third with a pick up by Horita and a pass right on the string to Woodruff’s glove.

“It was nerve racking for sure and I knew that Chelsea had that last one. We locked eyes and I knew that she was going to make it and it was going to be good,” Woodruff said about the last play of the game.

The NCAA awarded outstanding players of the regional playoffs to Swiger, Stedman, Oord and Fletcher.

The Wildcats have clinched their ninth NCAA regional championships and advance to the best-of-three Super Regionals. They will compete against the champion of the Seguin Texas Regional, which includes Texas Lutheran and Texas-Tyler, it will take place on Sunday. The location of Super Regionals will be announced on Monday by the NCAA.

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Wildcats knock regional tournament out of the park