SALEM, Va. – The top ranked team in the country got the best of Trine University in the first game of the 2022 NCAA Division III Softball Championship series. The Thunder held a lead in the middle portion of the contest, but ultimately came up short of Christopher Newport University by the score of 6-3.
The Captains entered the championship finals ranked first in the nation by the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top-25 poll and as the top seed in Salem. The Thunder on the other hand are 20th in the nation and sixth among the final eight teams.
Adrienne Rosey (Schoolcraft, Mich. / Schoolcraft) took the circle in the first inning for the Thunder after receiving a day off during yesterday's pool play final victory against Berry College. The sophomore picked right up where she left off making quick work of the first two innings retiring six straight members of the Captains.
In the other half of the inning, Christopher Newport's freshman Jamie Martin was just one step behind Rosey allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings of play. She received the first offensive support of the game for either team in the bottom of the third. The Captains recorded a leadoff single and then moved the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. Another single combined with a Thunder miscue brought gave them a 1-0 lead.
Trine quickly responded with their own offense in their next at-bat. After senior Taylor Murdock (Lapel, Ind. / Lapel) reached on an error for the second time of the day, junior Amanda Prather (Indianapolis, Ind. / Roncalli) moved her to third with the team's first hit. Sophomore Scarlett Elliott (Utica, Ohio / Utica) brought put down a perfect squeeze bunt that turned into a single when Christopher Newport failed to cover first.
Freshman Emma Beyer (Rochester, Mich. / Stoney Creek) followed up with a single down the left field line to bring home Elliott giving the team its first lead at 2-1.
Rosey seemed to exhale in the circle after the lead change, quickly dispatching the three, four and five hitters for the Captains in the fourth.
Christopher Newport changed that in the fifth by not only erasing the deficit but taking a lead of their own. They would plate five runs in the inning, building their largest lead so far at 6-2.
The Thunder cut into that lead in the top of the sixth when senior Mercede Daugherty (Watervliet, Mich. / Watervliet) cashed in on a pair of leadoff walks with a single through the left side of the infield. The team would strand two runners leaving the score at 6-3.
Classmate Lauren Clausen (Elk Grove, Ill. / Elk Grove) entered the game in relief for the bottom of the sixth. Rosey finished her five innings of work with six strikeouts while allowing the six runs, with only one counting against her as earned. Clausen worked her way through the sixth inning allowing just one hit while striking out a pair.
With just three outs left to score at least three runs, freshman Ainsley Phillips (Yorktown, Ind. / Yorktown) led off the seventh with her first hit of the game, but that was all the team could muster and the 6-3 score went final.
The loss snaps a 20-game winning streak for the Thunder, the first mark on a so far perfect postseason run. The team will now need to win two straight against the Captains to bring home their first national championship. The second game of the final series is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, May 30. A second game would follow at 1:30 p.m. if Trine can win in the morning.