Salem bound! Bulldogs advance to third straight WCWS DIII
-Bryce Hayes, TLU Sports News
(Seguin) – The No. 2 Texas Lutheran softball team clinched its third straight Division III Women’s College World Series appearance with a 2-0 sweep of No. 5 Belhaven in Seguin, Texas Super Regional over the weekend. -end. The Bulldogs survived Friday’s game 2-1 in eight innings and had 13 hits in a decisive 6-2 victory Saturday in front of a packed house at Ed Kruse Stadium.
The Bulldogs (43-4) will be aiming for their second national championship when the tournament begins Thursday at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.
Senior Casey Martin scored the opener in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single to right field to drive in Madison Johnson.
The two teams traded zeros over five innings in a duel between National Pitcher of the Year finalists Ashlyn Strother of TLU and Kennedy Carruth of Belhaven.
Texas Lutheran struck first – taking a 1-0 lead with an RBI brace from Laura Hernandez that scored Madison Johnson late in the sixth.
The Blazers responded in the top of the seventh. After a sacrificial bunt from Carruth moved Ellie Jones to third base, a Sydney Runnels RBI single would tie the game 1-1 late in the game.
After Sydney Ouellette relieved Strother with one out in the seventh and worked in the top of the eighth, Madison Johnson started the inning with a double down the left field line. With the game on the line and two strikes against her, Casey Martin would step into the box and leave for the Bulldogs in dramatic fashion and send the Bulldogs fans happy home as Texas Lutheran won Game 1.
Ouellette guided the Bulldogs to victory with a complete game, four no-walks, four hits and two runs allowed in Saturday’s decisive series.
Six different Bulldogs drove in a race. Martin continued to impress on the flat and on the way to the bases with a 3-for-4 day with three stolen bases. Fellow seniors Kelly Jurden and Chassety Raines each had multi-hit matches.
With the win, Texas Lutheran earned its 26th straight win and moved to 23-3 in tournament play since 2019. Texas Lutheran is now 4-1 all-time in NCAA Super Regionals.
Texas Lutheran got to the board first thanks to a sacrificial first-inning fly from Laura Hernandez scoring Jurden. TLU doubled their lead in the second inning after an RBI single from Jurden that scored Sarah Metzer, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
Belhaven (41-8) responded late in the third with an RBI from Abby Trahan.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Texas Lutheran cut their lead to two as an RBI triple from Johnson scored Jurden to give TLU a 3-1 lead. Belhaven would score his final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth behind another RBI from Trahan.
Texas Lutheran put three more runs on the board in the top of the seventh inning – scoring all three with two outs. A two-out single from Casey Martin and Laura Hernandez started the rally. Kylee Jack would re-enter the game and hit an RBI single to tag Martin from second, opening the floodgates for the Bulldogs. Faith Hernandez would follow with an RBI single of her own Linzee Leal score, which ran for Hernandez. After Sarah Metzer was hit by a pitch, Chassety Raines struck from the right side to score Jack, making the match 6-2.
Texas Lutheran stole four bases in the game, bringing their NCAA-leading total to 215. The Bulldogs stole a base in 45 of their 47 games and took their season total to 215, nine shy of the Division-III record set by The College of New Jersey in 1995.
Sydney Ouellette has allowed just one hit in her last two innings, striking out her last five batters she has faced. The Corpus Christi native improved to 12-3 this season with Saturday’s win.
After the game, Madison Johnson was named the Seguin, Texas Super Regional’s Most Outstanding Player and Sydney Ouellette was named the Super Regional’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.
The All-Tournament team was also named after the game along with the following Texas Lutheran members: Kelly Jurden, Casey Martin, Madison Johnson, Ashlyn Strother, Sarah Metzer and Sydney Ouellette. Kennedy Carruth of Belhaven, Abby Trahan, Haley Hanson, Sydney Runnels and Macey Ziskin have also been named to the squad.
TLU’s opponent(s) and times of play are to be determined, but Texas Lutheran will play at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.
The games 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 action for fans in the county area of Guadalupe.