ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team, ranked No. 4 in the country and the No. 2 seed in the West Region, defeated California Baptist 9-3 Saturday to win the 2015 NCAA West 2 Regional. The Red Storm moves on to next week’s NCAA Super Regional.
The Storm hit the ball well, jumping out to a big lead. Facing a 2-0 pitch with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, Dixie’s Autumn Woodfall’s patience was rewarded with a meaty pitch over the plate. Woodfall lined the ball to center field to empty the bases and give the Red Storm an insurmountable 8-0 lead. “The first two pitches were low,” said Woodfall. “Then she came across with one I could hit.”
“They are obviously not going to throw a third ball with the bases loaded,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “Woody did a good job getting it to a hitter’s count.”
The first two innings saw very little offense as two of the top pitchers in the PacWest squared off.
“It started out exactly how I thought it would be, a pitchers’ duel,” said Simkins. “That changed with Sheila Gelter. Gelter changed the inflection of the game with that first hit. We had three hard hit balls (all for extra bases) that followed that.”
Gelter got a hit in play after fouling off two pitches. Her shot to left went over the fielder’s head and to the fence for a lead-off double in the third. Josey Hartman tried to advance her with a sacrifice bunt but it popped up for the first out. Janessa Bassett then hit a ball to the fence in left field making it all the way to third and scoring Gelter. Nicole Chavez then smashed a home run over the left field fence on the first pitch thrown to her. Courtney Hine then doubled to right center, but was stranded as the Lancers got the last two batters out.
In the top of the fifth, the Storm exploded. Bassett drew a walk to start the inning. After stealing second, Bassett was moved to third on a sacrifice hit from Chavez. Hine then beat out the throw on a single to the third baseman. Marla Reiter then laid down a bunt. Bassett sped home and slid under the tag from the catcher. Hine advanced to third. Kristie Johnson came in to pinch run for Reiter at first. That move paid off as Mallory Paulson’s grounder to second base proved costly for the Lancers. The second baseman threw to second but Johnson beat the throw to the bag leaving the bases loaded for Woodfall.
“We don’t miss mistakes,” said Simkins. “Against good teams like Cal Baptist and the ones we are going to see here on out, we cannot miss mistakes. I think that has been the difference between our team and other good teams we have faced. We take advantage of mistakes.”
Lancer catcher Savannah Miller seconded that. “You cannot make little errors against Dixie State. They have a great defense. They have great hitters. Any mistake will hurt you against them.”
The Red Storm was one out away from ending the game early with the mercy rule. The Lancers Jordan Mowatt doubled up the middle to score Heather Smith to cut the lead to 8-1 in the fifth.
The Storm tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Chavez singled in Hartman, who drew a walk earlier in the inning.
Mowatt would double again in the sixth to bat in all of CBU’s runs for the game. That double bounced off the glove of Sherwin on what would have been a miraculous catch.
“We had Sherwin in on that play,” said Simkins. “Mowatt hits real well to the right side, but going to left that is the best she has ever hit it.”
“We have been coming back all year,” said Lancer head coach Bill Baber. “We just could not get all the way back this time. But I was proud of our effort.”
Duncan picked up the win and stays undefeated at 27-0. Kesterson took the loss and fell to 22-7 in her final performance of the year.
The Dixie batters hit .333, going 10 for 30 with five hits for extra bases. The Lancers hit .231, going six for 26.
Cal Baptist finishes the season with a 42-11 record. Dixie improves to 47-7 and have won twelve in a row since losing to the Lancers on April 4. The Red Storm will face the winner of the West I Division bracket that will be determined tomorrow between Sonoma State University and Montana State University-Billings. Dixie State University will host the super regional with one game on Friday, and the second and third (if necessary) games to be held on Saturday.
Stats: DSU 9, CBU 3
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