ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team opened up its post-season ride with an 8-6 win over Central Washington Friday afternoon at Karl Brooks Field in the first round of the NCAA Division II West Regional.
Dixie State finally took the lead for good on a pinch-hit two-run home run by Autumn Woodfall in the bottom of the sixth inning that broke a 6-6 tie. Woodfall, a sophomore from Kaysville, ripped a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence to break the tie. It was her fourth dinger of the season.
“I had just fouled a pitch over the fence on her earlier curveball,” said Woodfall. “She threw the exact same pitch at me again. I knew it was gone when it left my bat.”
CWU was first on the scoreboard when Kailyn Campbell singled in Sammy Morris in the opening frame. Dixie State responded with a two-run shot over the left field fence by Courtney Sherwin. The lead after one was Dixie’s, 2-1.
The Wildcats would score the next four runs, drawing even in the second when Maikala Galusha batted in Jordan Zurfluh. After CWU loaded the bases in the third, Andrea Hamada hit a two-run double off starting pitcher Aryn Feickert. Coach Randy Simkins pulled Feickert for Michelle Duncan to finish the inning. Before that could happen though the Wildcats got one more to go up 5-2.
“We came into the game with intention of forcing Dixie to change their game plan,” said Wildcat head coach Mallory Holtman-Fletcher. “I believe we succeeded in doing that. If by chance we meet them again, our girls have faced their two best pitchers.”
The Red Storm responded with a big inning of its own. They too would load the bases. Mallory Paulson’s two-run single scored Nicole Chavez and Bailee Freeland. Later in the inning, Sheila Gelter’s single scored Paulson and Courtney Hine. Dixie had retaken the lead 6-5.
After two scoreless innings, the Wildcats again evened the score on a Campbell double to the left side, scoring pinch runner Remy Bradley.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Red Storm got their lead runner on base. Simkins then called on Autumn Woodfall to pinch hit. The decision paid dividends as Woodfall took a 3-1 pitch and rocked it over the left-field fence. Dixie had reclaimed the lead it would not relinquish, 8-6.
Duncan closed out the last inning for the win, moving to 16-1 on the year. She ended up working five innings of relief and did not allow an earned run.
“Michelle came in at a crucial time,” said Simkins. “She contrasts and complements Aryn (Feickert) very well because she throws different stuff. It forced their hitters to make adjustments.”
Maria Gau took the loss, falling to 19-9. The Wildcats will play Humboldt State in the first elimination game Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
“We still have a bitter taste in our mouth from the last time we faced Humboldt,” said Holtman-Fletcher. “We are looking forward to the rematch.”
The Red Storm will now face UC-San Diego, upset winners over Humboldt State in the opening game of the bracket. Game time is 11 a.m.
“They knocked us out of the regional two years ago,” said Simkins. “We expected Humboldt because of their recent past success against San Diego (UCSD snapped an 11-game losing streak vs. HSU). But scouting that first game, you could see San Diego gain confidence as the game went on. Anything can happen in a regional game.”
Stats: DSU 8, CWU 6
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