ST. GEORGE – With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position Dixie second baseman Nicole Chavez caught a line drive and then threw the runner out at third base to squelch the comeback rally of Cal State-Monterrey Bay in the second game of their series.
Preserving the 6-5 victory gave the Red Storm a sweep of the Otters and the Super Regional Championship. Along with that comes a ticket to the NCAA Division II Softball World Series — Dixie State’s first visit since 2009, their first year of eligibility.
“We set some pretty lofty goals as a team at the beginning of the year,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “First, we wanted to win our conference. The next thing on the list was a National Championship.”
Chavez started the scoring in the first inning on a squeeze play perfectly executed by Courtney Sherwin, giving the Red Storm an early 1-0 advantage. The Otters answered in the third, putting up two runs on three hits. Dixie tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Sheila Gelter singled in Courtney Hine.
Dixie took charge of the game in the fourth inning. Brooke Budge singled to the left to get aboard as the lead-off runner. Josie Hartman then singled to center field, moving Budge to third. Autumn Woodfall entered the game as a pinch hitter and promptly singled up the middle, scoring Budge.
“Coming in as a pinch hitter is difficult,” said Woodfall. “Usually Coach Simkins gives me notice, but today it was ‘Autumn, you are on deck.’ It helped that I faced the same pitcher yesterday. The same pitch she struck me out on yesterday I laid off today, taking the count full. That forced her to throw me a good pitch..”
Chavez then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Hine executed Dixie’s second squeeze play of the game, scoring Hartman. After Courtney Sherwin drew a walk, Woodfall would score on an infield error. The three runs put Dixie up 5-2.
CSU Monterrey Bay made the game interesting with a rally in the seventh inning. Alissa Greenhaw hit a bases-loaded, two-run double to left center to pull the Otters within one. That led to the double play by Chavez to close out the game and the season for the top-seeded Otters.
“Their pitcher (Cori Reinhardt) was selected as the West Region’s player of the year,” said Simkins. “And this team just beat her twice. I am not disparaging her, because she is a great player and deserves that honor. It is an indication of the talent and toughness of my players.”
Michelle Duncan pitched the win, getting her 20th of the year. The victory total matches that of Aryn Feickert, who pitched in relief to get the save.
“I have two 20-win starters,” said Simkins. “I have absolute faith in either one. How many other coaches have that luxury?”
The Otters’ Cori Reinhardt took the loss, falling to 21-9 on the season.
The Red Storm will open the NCAA College World Series with a game at 7:30 pm Thursday against Southeastern Oklahoma in Salem, Virg.
Stats: DSU 5, CSMB 4
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.