DSU softball comes up one game short in quest for National Championship

Dixie State catcher Marla Reiter, Dixie State University vs. Azusa Pacific University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 25, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

EDMOND, Okla. – The Dixie State softball team fell one game short of being crowned National Champions, falling 5-0 to North Georgia University and All-American pitcher Courtney Poole Monday afternoon at Oklahoma Christian Field.

dsulogoThe Storm offense, which came alive Sunday in a 10-6 semifinal win, failed to produce against Poole, the Division II Pitcher and Player of the Year. Poole pitched a two-hit shutout, confounding Dixie State’s normally potent offense. The Dixie State hitters struggled to get any solid on Poole’s rise ball, with the UNG pitcher inducing a plethora of foul outs and fly outs.

Still, the Red Storm finished with the best record in Dixie State’s NCAA Division II era, ending the season 52-8. DSU went 8-1 in the postseason.

Red Storm head coach Randy Simkins discusses strategy with Autumn Woodfall, Dixie State University vs. Azusa Pacific University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 25, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Red Storm head coach Randy Simkins discusses strategy with Autumn Woodfall, Dixie State University vs. Azusa Pacific University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 25, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“These seniors aren’t just a special group, but a life-changing group,” Dixie State coach Randy Simkins said. “They replaced a special class that took us to Regionals our first three years of eligibility. This group has far exceeded that. All seven were All-Conference last year. Four were All-American this year. That never happens. And going two consecutive years to the World Series. How often does that happen? And best of all they genuinely care for each other and go to battle for each other just as much as for themselves.”

A rough second inning was the undoing for DSU, with the Nighthawks putting up four runs in the frame. It began when lead-off batter Jessica Finch singled up the middle. Katie Block then singled down the left field line, advancing pinch-runner Hannah McSwain to second. After Michelle Duncan struck out Alexis Collis looking, she gave up a third single to Meredith Heyer. Heyer hit to left field and the ball was misplayed by Courtney Sherwin, allowing two runs to score and giving UNG a 2-0 lead.

Taylor Merritt then singled up the middle advancing Heyer to third. For the first time in the tournament, a team dared to test All-American catcher Marla Reiter with an attempted steal. Reiter’s throw was spot on to Josey Hartman, whose tag caught Merritt at second.

Even with the Reiter play, North Georgia kept the rally alive. Meagan May reached on a throwing error by Sheila Gelter, allowing Heyer to score to make it 3-0. Kim McMillan drew a walk, putting May at second. Tiffanie Burns then singled to right field to score May and it was 4-0. Dixie coach Randy Simkins once again called on relief pitcher Aryn Feickert to get the Storm out of the inning. Ansley Phillips hit to Hartman who got the force at third to end the inning.

The Hawks would add an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Heyer doubled in Collis.

“We probably had our worst game defensively,” said Simkins. “We allowed people on base that should not have been there.”

UNG All-American pitcher Courtney Poole
UNG All-American pitcher Courtney Poole

Once again, Feickert pitched well in relief. She allowed only one hit and one run in four-plus innings. But the day and the tournament belonged to Poole. She only allowed Dixie one runner in scoring position on a double to Hartman. Poole did not walk anybody, struck out four and controlled the game from beginning to end.

“She is a talent,” said Simkins. “But we have faced really good pitchers all year. Not taking anything away from her (Poole), but we have the talent to overcome that deficit.”

Dixie State came into the tournament as the top batting team and the top fielding team. In addition to only getting two hits against the junior Poole, the Red Storm defense had an uncharacteristically high five errors. Duncan took the loss for her first and only loss of the year, falling to 31-1. Poole got her 47th win of the year against just five losses. Shortstop Josey Hartman and outfielder Janessa Bassett were named to the all-tournament team.

The Red Storm finish the season as the arguably the best team ever to play for Dixie State since going to Division II with a record of 52-8. They won the Pacific West Conference with the best conference record ever posted at 31-1. The four-year seniors had a collective record of 181-54. In their four years, the seven seniors have garnered 17 all-Pac West honors, 10 West Region honors and three All-American honors. Each of the seven seniors has received at least one of the above accolades.

Fans wishing to welcome back the national runner-up Red Storm can do so Tuesday, May 26, when Dixie State returns to Karl Brooks Field in St. George at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Josey Hartman was 6 for 11 at the National Tournament and was onje of three DSU Players named to the all-tourney team (Michelle Duncan and Janessa Bassett), file photo from Dixie State vs. Central Washington, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News
Josey Hartman was 6 for 11 at the National Tournament and was one of three DSU players named to the all-tourney team (Michelle Duncan and Janessa Bassett), file photo from Dixie State vs. Central Washington, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Stats: North Georgia 5, Dixie State 0

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Lastdays May 26, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Why was there not a second game ? The other team already had one loss. In a true double elimination tournament Dixie would have had to be beaten twice instead of once.

  • 42214 May 27, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    That pitcher is one scary looking creature

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