MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Cardiac Kids kept their historic season alive with a 2-1 victory in extra innings against top-seeded Saint Anselm College to claim the NCAA Division II East Region title for the fifth time.
With the victory, the Pioneers punch their ticket to the NCAA Division II Women's College World Series next week in Denver, Colo. LIU Post will compete in the eight-team tournament for their first National Championship in program history
It was a true test of fate on Friday for the Pioneers as LIU Post clinched its first berth to the World Series on the fifth anniversary of its last appearance (2014), while also setting a new program mark with 51 wins this season, surpassing the previous mark set by the same 2014 squad.
It was not an easy path for the Pioneers who dropped the day's opening contest by a 9-6 final. The Pioneers overcame a 1-0 deficit in game two, coming from behind for the third time in five victories during the NCAA Championship.
Senior Julia Seader was once again the hero for LIU Post, finishing 5-for-7 with two singles, one double, one triple, and one key home run during the two games. Seader drove in four runs on the day while reaching base safely in six of eight plate appearances. Junior Allie Laird finished 3-for-6 at the plate with two runs scored, while senior Ashley Melendez added a pair of hits including a home run.
Junior Katie Humhej was masterful in game two, striking out five batters and allowing just one run during the eight-inning complete game.
The Pioneers threatened during the opening frame with two runners on base before the Hawks worked out of the jam with a two-out strikeout. Humhej retired the first eight batters of the game before surrendering a single during the third inning. The game remained scoreless, however, through the first four innings.
Saint Anselm led off the fifth inning with a single to shortstop despite a great effort from Dun deep in the hole. A sacrifice bunt advanced a runner into scoring position for the first time and a one-out single to right field gave the Hawks a 1-0 advantage after five innings.
LIU Post continued to showcase its late-inning heroics though as Seader started a rally with a leadoff single to right field during the top of the sixth. A sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position with two outs and Melendez kept her hot bat alive with an RBI-single to right field to score sophomore Hanna Finkelstein to level the scoring at 1-1.
Neither team could capitalize on two-out singles during the seventh inning and the winner-take-all game headed into extra innings. After taking two balls to begin her at-bat, Seader launched a leadoff home run on a frozen rope over the fence in right-center field to give LIU Post a 2-1 lead. The Pioneers threatened with two more base runners with no outs, but the Hawks worked out of the jam and trailed by just one heading to the bottom of the frame.
Humhej induced a lineout to shortstop and Laird made a fantastic diving catch in left field for the second out of the inning. Saint Anselm stayed alive with a two-out single to center field before Humhej snagged a comebacker in the circle and flipped to Finkelstein for the final out, lifting LIU Post into the National Championship.
The Pioneers will await their seeding in next week's championship and will begin play on Thursday, May 23. More information following the bracket release, along with a complete schedule and preview will be available on www.liupostpioneers.com early next week.