CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Needing just one win on Sunday to advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Division III softball tournament, the Augustana Vikings had it in their grasp.|
But in the noontime final at the Coe College regional pod, St. Thomas wouldn't go away quietly. Trailing by three runs entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tommies scored twice in the sixth and once in the seventh to force extra innings, then tallied another run in the last of the ninth to steal a 5-4 win away from the Vikings.
Then in the winner-take-all final here at Clark Field, St. Thomas scored seven runs in the second and third innings, giving it enough of a cushion to withstand a late Augie rally and earn a 10-7 victory, ending the Vikings' season at 35-13 and stopping them one short of tying Augie's single-season victory record.
Meantime, the Tommies take a 40-6 record onto the Super Regional at a site to be determined, where they will take on another CCIW club in North Central. St. Thomas's two Sunday wins capped a 4-0 run through the losers' bracket.
In the first game, Augustana scored single runs in four of the first six innings to go up 4-1 as pitcher Sarah Hintz helped herself by going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, supported by two-hit outings from teammates Laura Behnke and Jaime Rehmert.
However, St. Thomas capped its rally with Jenna Hoffman's game-tying home run off Hintz (19-6) to lead off the last of the seventh. Then in the ninth, Meg DuPuis singled to start the frame and came home on Bianca Peterson's one-out RBI single.
In the second game, Augie's Krista Watson did her best with two hits and five RBIs, with Behnke notching another two-hit game, but it wasn't enough as the Tommies used a five-run second to go up 7-2 after three, stretching their lead to 10-2 entering the bottom of the sixth. The Vikings then put up five runs to the sixth to get back in contention, with Watson's grand slam the key blow, but couldn't complete their comeback bid.
Behnke, Hintz, Reimert and Watson were all named to the All-Region team for Augustana.
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