A berth in the NCAA Division III Softball Championships World Series will be on the line when Pacific Lutheran faces tournament host Texas-Tyler in the Tyler Regional title game starting at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) on Monday.
The Lutes (40-11), who came into this seven-team tournament as the No. 2 seed and with a No. 4 ranking in Division III softball, have won all three of their games. Texas-Tyler (39-8), the No. 1 seed and the No. 7-ranked team in the country, is 3-1 in the tournament. PLU needs to win just once to earn its first trip to the World Series since 2002, while Texas-Tyler has to defeat the Lutes twice on Monday to make its second consecutive trip to the national championship event.
Should Texas-Tyler defeat PLU in the 1:30 p.m. game, a second "if necessary" contest will follow.
The championship game will mark the third time that the teams have faced each other this season after the Lutes and Patriots split a doubleheader in Tyler on March 29. PLU won the opener, 3-2 in eight innings, before UT-Tyler rolled to a 7-0 victory in the second game.
Pacific Lutheran reached the regional title game by beating its first three opponents. It opened play on Friday with an 8-0 five-inning win over Huntington (Ala.), rallied from a deficit on Saturday to beat Redlands (Calif.) by a 2-1 score in eight innings, and then today topped Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.), 5-1.
Texas-Tyler started out Friday with a 5-2 victory over fellow American Southwest Conference member Louisiana College before dropping a 3-1 decision on Saturday to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Facing elimination, the Patriots won twice today, topping Birmingham-Southern (Ala.), 5-0, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 2-0. In that final game, the teams went into the bottom of the sixth inning scoreless before Rachel Howell crushed a two-run homer into the scoreboard behind the left field fence. Heather Abshire wrapped up a one-hit gem in the seventh, sending the Patriots into Monday's meeting with the Lutes. Abshire, UT-Tyler's pitching ace, threw all 14 shutout innings on Sunday and she is 3-0 in the tournament.
The winner of the Tyler Regional will book a ticket to the Division III national championship tournament scheduled for May 18-22 at the Moyer Complex in Salem, Va.
LUTE NOTES: Stacey Hagensen is 3-0 with a 0.74 earned run average in three Tyler Regional games...in 19 innings she has allowed two runs on 15 hits while walking one and striking out 14...Montessa Califano is hitting .545 (6-for-11) in the tournament...Califano has had at least one hit in all three games and has scored two runs...Amanda Hall is hitting .444 (4-for-9) with four runs batted in...Kaaren Hatlen is hitting .375 (3-for-8) with four RBI, a home run, and two runs scored...Glenelle Nitta is hitting .333 (3-for-9) with three RBI...PLU has committed just one error in its three tournament games.
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