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Lutes Get it Done, Beat Tyler for Regional Championship

Stacey Hagensen pitches in the regional tournament title game. (Photo courtesy UT-Tyler)
Stacey Hagensen pitches in the regional tournament title game. (Photo courtesy UT-Tyler)

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TYLER, Texas - Tournament Most Valuable Player Stacey Hagensen threw a four-hit shutout as Pacific Lutheran defeated Texas-Tyler, 4-0, to win the Tyler Regional and earn a spot in the NCAA Division III Softball World Series.

PLU will open their College World Series play against Luther (Iowa), 40-7 and the Pella Tournament winner, in the second game of the national championships at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the Moyer Complex in Salem, Va.

Hagensen, who threw all 26 innings as the Lutes went unbeaten in their four regional tournament games, walked one and struck out seven. The two-time Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year, the senior right-hander improved her season record to 24-5.

With the victory, the Lutes improve to 41-11 overall this season, which establishes a PLU softball program record for most victories in a season. The 1990 team finished 40-8 to set the previous record.

"This is redemption for a lot of things," PLU head coach Erin Van Nostrand said after being asked about her 2011 team being denied an at-large bid to the national tournament despite an outstanding 31-13 record. "We've had a tough couple of years, and these girls are the most mentally tough kids I've ever met. I appreciate them more than they'll ever understand.

Hagensen was in command throughout, limiting the Patriots to three hits through the first six innings. She was aided by double plays turned by the defense in the third and fifth innings. Catcher Katie Lowery also threw out a base stealer in the second inning.

It wasn't until the seventh that the Patriots made it interesting, but by that time they trailed 4-0. With one out Ashley Endsley hit a double, her third hit of the game, and then Hagensen hit a couple of batters to load the bases with two outs. Hagensen finished the the Patriots, and the tournament, by catching Carli Wheeler looking with a drop ball on the outside corner.

The celebration started after that.

The Lutes took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, combining three hits and two crucial Texas-Tyler errors. Haley Harshaw led off the inning with a single and moved to second when Amanda Going grounded out. Montessa Califano hit a grounder to Endsley at third base, and she had Harshaw trapped off of second but threw the ball into center field, allowing Harshaw to score. When the throw from the outfield sailed to the backstop, Califano ended up at third base.

Glenelle Nitta put down a suicide squeeze bunt and Califano slid in under the tag for the second run of the inning. After Hagensen lined out, Kaaren Hatlen hit a single and Amanda Hall followed with a double off the top of the fence in left centerfield, making it 3-0.

The Lutes added their final run in the fourth when Lindsey Matsunaga led off with a single, moved to second on Harshaw's sacrifice bunt, to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a ground out by Goings.

PLU players named to the all-tournament included MVP Hagensen, first baseman Hall, designated player Hatlen and outfielder Califano.

"Stacey is our heart and soul. She has been since I got here," said Van Nostrand, who has a 113-61 record in her fourth season at PLU. "She's just an amazing kid and I couldn't be happier for Stacey."

- PLU -