ANGOLA, Ind. – The Trine University softball team finished off their NCAA Division III Super Regional with a bit of trickery to clinch their third trip to the Division III Women's College World Series (WCWS).
It’s tricky👀pic.twitter.com/G6hgCCiSOu— FloSoftball (@FloSoftball) May 20, 2019
The team entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead, just three outs away from a trip to Tyler, Texas. After grabbing two of those outs, visiting SUNY Geneseo moved a runner into scoring position at second prompting a visit to the circle from the Thunder coaching staff.
What followed that visit was a perfectly executed hidden ball trick play with senior Kate Saupe (Farwell, Mich. / Farwell) making a perfect fake throw into the outfield and then applying the game-ending tag to the baserunner.
The ruse was sold by diving supporting acting roles from juniors Makenna Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine), Claire Ryan (Union Grove, Wis. / Union Grove) and Michaela Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine).
Unlike yesterday, the Thunder struck first in today's contest. After two scoreless times at bat Trine came to the plate in the top of the third and picked up the leadoff walk from junior Michaela Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine). Hartline would work her way to third behind a sacrifice bunt and a past ball. Freshman Lexi Clark (Niles, Mich. / Edwardsburg) would bring her home with a ground ball to the shortstop.
Clark would keep the inning going by reaching first on an error by the shortstop. Makenna Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) would reach base with a double in the next at-bat putting runners at second and third with just one out.
Freshman Taylor Murdock (Lapel, Ind. / Lapel) once again came through in the clutch for the team in the next at-bat bringing both runners home with a hard-driven single. Following her second big day at the plate, Murdock was named the Angola, Indiana Super Regional Most Outstanding Player.
The Trine lead would remain 3-0 until the bottom of the sixth when Geneseo pulled within two with a groundball single of their own. The Thunder minimized the damage and headed into the seventh with a 3-1 lead.
The lead was the same in the bottom of the seventh when senior Kate Saupe (Farwell, Mich. / Farwell) came to the circle to attempt to complete the game she started. The game was not the prettiest for Saupe as she had been forced to fight her way out of bases-loaded situations twice in the game, but each time she answered the call allowing just the one earned run in the contest.
To start the final three innings of work she picked up a quick groundout before walking the second batter of the inning after a grueling ten-pitch at-bat. She then picked up her second out of the inning with a fielders choice out at second. Another batter reached on a single to left field to put runners at first and second with two outs in the inning.
The win was Saupe's 16th of the season and combined with her save from game one, it was enough to earn her Angola, Indiana Super Regional Most Outstanding Pitcher award.
Following the win, the Thunder will advance to the NCAA Division III WCWS which will be hosted by University of Texas at Tyler beginning on Thursday, May 23. The team's game times and opponents have yet to be decided. This will be Trine University's third appearance in the WCWS.