The method was different but the results the same, as Linfield pounded out a 10-2 six-inning victory over Washington-St. Louis for the program's first Division III National Championship.
After yesterday's Linfield victory, an eight-inning 1-0 pitcher's duel that forced today's deciding game, the Wildcats erupted for 10 earned runs, including eight off Bear starter Laurel Sagartz, who had given up just eight earned runs all year.
With fifteen hits, several Wildcats made huge contributions to the mercy rule victory, including a 4-for-4, three RBI performance from shortstop Meredith Brunette and two home runs from first baseman Amanda Attleberger. In contrast, Linfield starter Brittany Miller held the Bears to just two runs on eight hits, striking out six.
When asked about the team's offensive approach, Brunette was quick to reply.
"That's 'Cat ball. When we're doing well, it catches on, and today was a great example of that," Brunette said.
Linfield ended any chance of another pitching battle after Stephanie Rice led off the bottom of the first with a triple and then scored on a Jenny Marshall single.
"When I got on third, I thought 'this is our game. They have no chance,'" Rice said.
The Wildcats would go on to score three more in the first, courtesty of a two-run line drive home run by Brunette and a solo shot by Attleberger.
Wash U. would battle back in the top of the second with a solo home run to left by Ashton Hitchcock, but Linfield answered that run in the bottom half of the frame as Rice would score her second run of the game on a Brunette single.
The Bears concluded their scoring in the third when designated player Carter Malouf opened with a double and then scored on a Lindsay Cavarra single. The Wildcats were far from done, however, as Attleberger led off the third with a huge shot to center field and was followed just a batter later by a two-run shot by Lisa Smith. That home run, the Wildcats' fourth of the game, would chase Sagartz, who was replaced by senior Abby Morgan.
"They were swinging really hard. It's hard to play defense when the ball goes over the fence," Sagartz said. "It's always a little bitter to come up short-handed, and it's always going to be that way."
"She's a great pitcher; we're just a really good offense," Linfield's Attleberger said.
Morgan would shut down the Wildcat bats for two innings, but after back-to-back singles by Marshall and Brunette to start the sixth, Jena Loop delivered the game-ending two-RBI single up the middle.
"Last year, making our first appearance, we were like deer in headlights. This year, we came in here knowing we were a great team and would have a chance," Linfield senior Loop said.