Softball wins again, to Sunday finals

Softball wins again, to Sunday finals

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Jessica Eppenberger threw five innings of two-hit, shutout relief and Brenna Walek crushed a late two-run home run as St. Thomas Softball scored a 3-0 win over Coe (Iowa) in Saturday's winner's bracket game at the NCAA regional tournament in Pella, Iowa.

The Tommies (36-9) managed just three hits but kept the Kohawks (30-10) off the scoreboard and avenged one of their three non-conference losses this season.

St. Thomas will play a 1 p.m. Sunday game against Coe, which beat Washington (Mo.) 2-1.

A Tommie win Sunday sends them to the May 19-20 Super Regional. A game-one Sunday loss creates a 3:30 p.m. rematch for the championship.

Sammy Hogan started and gave up four hits in two-plus innings. Eppenberger came on with the bases loaded and none out in the third inning and got three outs to keep the game scoreless. Eppenberger struck out one and didn't walk a batter as she retired 15 of the 17 Coe batters she faced.

The Toms' Rachel Suter reached second on a two-base error in the fourth. She stole third and scored on a throwing error.

UST had two outs in the bottom of the sixth with a runner on third when Walek punched a two-run home run -- the 35th of her career.

 

Friday story

Freshman Elise Barnes' grand slam highlighted a seven-run sixth inning as No. 23-ranked St. Thomas Softball scored a 10-2, six-inning victory over No. 9-ranked Central in Friday's NCAA regional playoff opener in Pella, Iowa.

Megan Bush went 3-for-3 and drove in two for the Tommies (35-9), who secured the program's 16th 35-win season in 17 years under Coach John Tschida.

St. Thomas advanced to an 11 a.m. Saturday winners' bracket game against No. 25-ranked Coe (Iowa), a 2-1 winner over Washington (Mo.). That winner advances to Sunday's finals.

Central (32-9) plays Wash. U. in an elimination game, and that winner plays the UST-Coe loser in a second elimination contest.

The Tommies trailed 2-1 with two outs in the top of the fifth before Chase Shortly's two-run single put them ahead to stay.

UST starter Sammy Hogan allowed one earned run in six innings for the pitching victory and went 2-for-2 at the plate. Central trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth and put two runners on but Hogan got a fly out to escape the threat. The Toms iced the game with a seven-run uprising in the sixth inning.

Shortly, Brenna Walek and Jenna Beeso each had two hits.