TLU Shuts Out WPI, Set to Meet Loser of Salisbury-Trine
SALEM, VA -- Rather than cling to the disappointment of its stunning opening-round loss in the Division-III Women's College World Series, the fourth-seeded Texas Lutheran softball team returned to form by shutting out Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), 6-0, in an elimination game Saturday morning at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs remain alive in the double-elimination tournament and will face the loser of Salisbury-Trine later today at 5:30 PM EST/4:30 PM CST.
TLU (44-5) and Salisbury (42-6) have been in the top ten of every NFCA poll this season. Texas Lutheran and Trine (33-11) faced off in the NFCA Leadoff Classic earlier this season in a game that saw TLU leave victorious with a 6-2 victory. Salisbury beat Millikin 6-5 in nine innings in their tournament opener on Thursday. In a game that had to carry over into Friday due to weather in the Salem area, Trine defeated three-seed Eastern Connecticut State 4-2 in eight innings.
Sparked by patented, top tier base running and an elite performance from pitcher Ashlyn Strother (Seabrook/Clear Falls) the Bulldogs posted their now program record 44th win of the season.
In the same vein, Kelly Jurden (Brenham/Brenham) matched the NCAA Division-III record for stolen bases in a single season - bringing her season total to 73. As a team, Texas Lutheran is one stolen base away from matching The College of New Jersey's 1995 record of 224 stolen bases in a season.
After both teams were held hitless through the first three innings, senior second baseman Casey Martin (Pearland/Pearland) put the Bulldogs on the board in the top of the fourth with a sacrifice bunt that scored Kelly Jurden.
Martin, the SCAC Player of the Year and batting average champion, went 2-for-3 in the game with two RBIs to raise her season batting average to .443.
TLU freshman shortstop Faith Hernandez (Dinuba, Calif./Dinuba) made it 2-0 with an RBI double down the right field line to score Kirsten Williams (Pearland/Glenda Dawson) in the top of the fifth. Chassety Raines (Spring/Klein Collins) would follow with an RBI single up the middle to score Sidney Cox (Frisco/Wakeland), who pinch ran for Hernandez.
Linzee Leal (Corpus Christi/Mary Carroll) would score on a WPI fielding error in the top of the sixth to increase the Bulldogs lead to 4-0. The Bulldogs would tack on two insurance runs in the seventh courtesy of Brandalyn Dee (Cibolo/Steele) scoring on a throwing error and an RBI single from Casey Martin bringin the the Bulldogs to their final tally of 6-0.
After committing two errors in their loss to Berry, the Bulldogs defense, who entered the tournament as the top defensive team in Division-III, was flawless in the field and received a commanding performance from sophomore righthander Ashlyn Strother (24-0), who allowed just two hits, struck out 13 and walked only two batters in seven innings of work. Strother has now tossed 16 complete games and 10 shutouts on the season. This was Strother's tenth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
Tonight's game can be seen on ncaa.com with Lincoln Rose and Sydney Gerbracht on the call and heard on KWED 1580 AM Radio with play-by-play announcer Mike McBride calling the action for fans in the Guadalupe County area. All streaming and live stats links can be found on tlubulldogs.com.
For more information on Texas Lutheran softball, follow the Bulldogs on Facebook (@txlutheransoftball), Twitter (@TLUsoftball), and Instagram (@tlu_softball) and as always you can find updates on all Texas Lutheran athletics on tlubulldogs.com and all official TLU social media channels (@tluathletics on Twitter, @tlubulldogs on Instagram and Facebook, and @tlu_athletics on TikTok).