OKLAHOMA CITY -- Trine rallied in the bottom of the eighth, but was unable to overcome a four-run deficit as Amherst earned the 4-3 victory in the opening game of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship.
After a seven-inning pitchers' duel, the Mammoths struck for four runs in the eighth. The Thunder rallied with three of their own in the bottom half of the frame, but was unable to complete the comeback. Ally Kido had two hits and two RBIs in the game for Amherst. Carly Bachna (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria) drove in two runs for Trine in her National Championship debut. Trine will play an elimination game tomorrow at 11 a.m. CDT.
Pitchers Danielle Ray (Hamilton, Ohio / Badin) and Gina Pagan traded zeroes through the first seven innings. The Mammoths threatened with two on and one out in the top of the seventh, but Catherine Porter (Canton, Mich. / Plymouth Canton) made a big defensive play in throwing out a runner trying to steal third to get the second out. Ray induced a fly out to left to get out of trouble.
The Thunder threatened in the bottom of the seventh, putting two on with two out, but were unable to push across the winning run. Pagan induced a groundout to end the inning and send the game to extras.
A walk, a hit batter and an infield bunt single by Kyra Naftel loaded the bases with none out in the top of the eighth. Kate Kopatic worked a full-count walk to force home the first run of the game. A sacrifice fly by Alena Marovitz brought in the second run of the inning to make the score 2-0.
A fielder's choice and a walk loaded the bases back up, before Kido singled to center to score two and end the inning with a 4-0 Mammoth advantage.
Michaela Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) drew a walk and Claire Ryan (Union Grove, Wis. / Union Grove) was hit by a pitch to start the Trine rally in the seventh. After a groundout, Bachna ripped a single through the left side to score two runs and cut the deficit in half. After a wild pitch, Porter lined a single to left to score Bachna and cut the score to 4-3.
A diving catch in right-center by Julia Turner turned out to be the defensive play of the inning for Amherst. Turner laid out on a Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) liner ticketed for the gap to save extra bases and keep the potential tying run at second. The Mammoths were able to escape further damage to seal the victory.
Pagan earned the victory with 7.1 innings of work. She allowed three earned runs on five hits, walked five and struck out four. Pagan improved to 23-4. Lorena Ukanwa pitched two-thirds of an inning to get the save.
Ray was tagged with the loss despite a strong effort in the circle. The freshman allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, walked three and struck out five in her 127-pitch effort.
Amherst improved to 34-10 overall. The Mammoths picked up their first ever win at the National Championship. They will face the winner of the matchup between Virginia Wesleyan and Texas-Tyler tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. CDT.
Trine fell to 37-9. The Thunder take on the loser of the matchup between Virginia Wesleyan and Texas-Tyler tomorrow at 11 a.m. CDT in an elimination game.