MARSHALL, Texas – Tenth-ranked East Texas Baptist held on to defeat #17 Whitworth 7-5 in the championship of the Marshal, Texas NCAA Division III Softball Regional on Sunday afternoon.
The regional-host Tigers improve to 38-9 and advance to play defending NCAA Division III champion Texas-Tyler in the Super Regionals on May 19-20.
The Pirates conclude their most successful season ever with a record of 37-11, setting a school record for most victories while earning the first Northwest Conference tournament title and the first two NCAA playoff wins in team history.
ETBU jumped ahead 3-0 in the first inning. After the first two Tigers reached base on singles, Jayme Perez doubled home both runs. Later in the inning ETBU loaded the bases with two outs before Katy Hill walked to drive in the third run.
Whitworth, playing as the home team on the scoreboard, responded with two runs in the bottom of the first. Kinsey McNaught walked leading off and Myranda Ramirez singled to shortstop. Both moved up on a wild pitch before coming home on a swinging third-strike passed ball with Shannon Wessel at the plate. After a pop out, Ramirez was able to score from third base as Wessel stole second, drawing a poor throw from the catcher.
ETBU appeared to break the game open with four runs in the top of the third inning. Lacey Lindsey and Kaitlyn Hollingshead led off with back-to-back solo home runs to increase the margin to 5-2. Later in the frame Lindsey Vasquez drove a single up the middle that brought home two more runs.
Whitworth did not get to Tiger starting pitcher Jordan Anderson until the bottom of the fifth. Wessel drilled a three-run homer to left field with two outs, scoring Desi Graham and Kinsey McNaught. The Bucs scored their five runs on only three hits in the game, taking advantage of four walks.
After the Wessel homer, her sixth of the season, reliever Rocki Tello came on to retire the final seven Pirate batters in a row to keep Whitworth at bay help Anderson improve to 17-3.
Madi Perez (25-6) started in the circle for Whitworth, as she had in the previous three Pirate games at the regional. She took the loss after allowing five runs on five hits in 2.1 innings. Ashley Trueblood worked the final 4.2 innings for the Bucs and gave up two runs on five hits.
Perez, who earned two victories in the regional, set school records for wins and complete games (21) in 2017.