Janet Nagle tossed a no-hitter and Nikki Conway capped a three-run third inning with a two-run home run as defending national champion St. Thomas knocked off Salisbury 5-0 at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Raleigh, N.C.
Nagle struck out six and walked three while throwing the first no-hitter in Division III championship history since Becky Pierce of Alma tossed one in the 2000 championship against Tufts.
"We played with a little more fire today. We came out swinging the bats. Lacey Lister kept us off balance at the start, but we started putting the bat on the ball around the third inning," Tommies' head coach John Tschida said. "Janet got ahead of most of the batters with good pitches and good location. She threw hard and with good movement; she pitched a good game against a very good hitting team."
Lister and Nagle engaged in a pitcher's duel through the opening two frames, but St. Thomas' bats exploded in the third. With one out, Lister hit Colleen Fitzpatrick with a pitch to bring Conway to the plate. Conway's home run was her fourth in five NCAA playoff games.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball pretty well," Conway, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, said. "I didn't feel too good about the home run because I got under it a little bit and could have made better contact."
Michelle Wong, one of seven St. Thomas players to hit safely in the game, continued the offensive assault with a double to the outfield wall. Salisbury head coach Margie Knight decided to replace Lister with freshman Kirsten Wells. After getting Kristi Huegel to ground into a fielder's choice, Wells walked Katie Wiberg to set up Maria Bye's two-out single that capped the three-run frame.
The Tommies added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth as Wiberg brought in Huegel with a base hit and later scored on a bunt by Carrie Embree.
"We always want to control what we can control. I didn't think we did that yesterday; we didn't come prepared mentally or emotionally," Tschida said. "You don't want to waste that opportunity you have. We stressed about responding, and our players responded with energy and focus."
St. Thomas moves into Sunday's semifinal to face the winner of Saturday night's contest between Chapman and Ithaca. Salisbury will face Muskingum in an elimination game Sunday at Noon EST.
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