After falling to Moravian in game of the best-of-three Super Regional series of the 2015 NCAA Division III Softball Championships, the DePauw Tigers picked up a pair of come-from-behind wins over the Greyhounds on Saturday afternoon by scores 9-6 and 10-7 of to advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament for the first time since 2011.
The Tigers will now take a 35-14 record into the national tournament, which opens on Thursday, May 21, at the Moyer Softball Complex in Salem. DPU opens the double-elimination national tournament on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. against Salisbury (36-6). The Sea Gulls posted a clean sweep in their Super Regional Series over Christopher Newport on Saturday afternoon by scores of 8-0 and 5-0.
The Tigers found themselves in early holes in both contests on Saturday, trailing 6-1 late in the first game and falling behind, 7-0, after just two innings in the second game.
Trailing by five heading into the bottom of the sixth inning in Saturday’s first game, the Tigers pulled even at 6-6 off a three-run homer from freshman Lauren Godden (Carmel, IN/Carmel) and a two-run double from sophomore Gabby Smart (Chicago, IL/Trinity).
After freshman pitcher Emma Baldwin (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park & River Forest) retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, Godden again stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and blasted a walk-off three-run bomb over the right centerfield wall to give the Tigers the 9-6 victory.
The magic seemed to be running out for the Tigers in the early portion of game three as they fell behind by seven runs after just two frames, but the resilient lineup stuck with it and chipped away at the Moravian lead, outscoring the Greyhounds by a 10-0 margin over the final five innings to earn the remarkable three-run victory.
After tying the game up unconventionally in the bottom of the fifth inning on an illegal pitch from the Moravian pitcher, the Tigers broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI groundout from freshman Morgan McCord (Indianapolis, IN/Decatur Central) and a two-run triple off the bat of senior Jennifer Ridge (Bloomington, IN/North).
The real hero for the Tigers in the pivotal game three proved to be none other than senior pitcher Kahla Nolan (West Chicago, IL/Wheaton North), as the veteran right-hander came on in relief in the top of the second inning and limited the Greyhounds to just one earned run on four hits over the final 5.2 innings to allow the Tigers bats to claw their way back into the contest.