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NCAA Division III Championship: Day Two

Kelly Paryl's sixth-inning three-run homer following a tie-breaking RBI single by Megan Thomas provided the winning margin in North Central's 8-4 win. The win eliminates Ithaca and advances North Central to the next round of the elimination bracket, where they'll face the loser of this evening's Muskingum/St. Mary's game at 1:30 CDT tomorrow afternoon. Ithaca took a 2-0 first-inning lead on Laura Remia's two-run homer, but North Central came back to the the game in the second on Betsy Dwyer's two-run single. Thomas' two-run single in the fourth gave North Central a 4-2 lead but Ithaca came back to tie in the fifth on an RBI double by Kim Sebastiao and an RBI single by Mairin Dudek. That set the stage for Thomas and Paryl's heroics in the bottom of the sixth.

NORTH CENTRAL COACH JIM KULIAWIAK:"After the way we played yesterday (8-0, run-rule loss to Roanoke) and after falling behind 2-0 today, a lot of teams would have given up, but we didn't That's a great credit to our team."

KELLY PARYL on her three-run homer in the sixth: "It felt great. I was just looking for a hit but God was blessing me and gave me a long one."

MEGAN THOMAS: "We knew this was it if we lost. We just wanted to make sure our season and the seniors' careers didn't end today."

In the wildest of the six games played so far, Wheaton College rallied three times and finally overcame William Paterson, 5-4, in a nine-inning contest. With her team behind 4-3 entering the last of the ninth, Wheaton's Carmella Ranieriled off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on Amanda Dow-Allen's flyout. Maren Schrader's single scored Ranieri with the tying run and following a bunt single by Jill D'Arcy that advanced Schrader to second, Kstie Zuman ripped a single up the middle that scored Schrader with the winning run. Wheaton's next game will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. against the loser of this afternoon's winner's bracket game between Central and Roanoke. Lauren Hertzberg's RBI triple broke a scoreless tie and propelled William Paterson to a 2-0 sixth-inning lead. Wheaton's Maren Schrader led off the sixth inning with an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by Courtney Heller. Hertzberg then flared a soft line drive down the right field line that landed just fair and rolled into the corner for a triple, scoring Schrader. Hertzberg then scored on a perfect squeez bunt by Diane Naugle. Wheaton rallied in the bottom of the seventh when pinch hitter Carmella Ranieri lined a triple up the right-center gap that scored Rachael Powers, who had singled with one out. Moments later, Ranieri scored on Amanda Dow-Allen's single and the game was tied. William Paterson regained the lead in the top of the eighth on Liz Carroll's two-out RBi single that scored Hertzberg, who had led off the inning with a single and stole second with two out, just prior to Carroll's hit. Wheaton tied the game in the last of the eighth. Katie Zuman led off with a walk and advanced to second on Lcy Campbell's single. Brianna Shawah sacrificed the runners up 60 feet and Zuman scored the tying run on Rachael Powers' sscrifice fly. In the top of the ninth, Katie Morris led off with a single, was sacrificed to second and scored on Diana Barger's single, giving William Paterson a 4-3 lead after 8 1/2, but Wheaton rallied for two in the last of the ninth for the win. The loss eliminates William Paterson from the tournanament.

WHEATON'S CARMELLA RANIERI, a switch-hitter on her thoughts as a pinch hitter in the last of the seventh with a runner at first, two out and her team trailing 2-0: "I went up lefty because I bunt better from the left side and I was thinking of bunting. But then I thought with two outs, if I get thrown out at first, the game is over, so I decided to swing away." Ranieri's triple drove in Wheaton's first run and she scored the game-tying second run later in the inning.

WHEATON'S KATIE ZUMAN:, one of two seniors on the roster, who was moved from the No. 9 spot in the order to the No. 3 spot in this game to take advantange of her experience, on her ninth-inning game-winning RBI: "I'm still shaking. I knew that if I got a hit anywhere, Maren (Schrader) would score because she's so fast. We've done this (rally in the late innings) before. We always seem to be able to come back. It's amazing."

WHEATON COACH GINA LOUDENBURG on Ranieri's baserunning in the ninth inning. She stole second and advanced to third on a flyout to center before scoring the tying run: "They're on their own (to run) about 95 percent of the time on the bases. I figure they know their own abilities a lot better than I do."

GAME 7 - (Winner's bracket semifinal)Central (40-8)  000 101 1 -- 3-10-1Roanoke (42-10) 000 000 1 -- 1-5-1Libby Hysell, April Miller (7), Hysell (7) and Annie Van WetzingaPriscilla Hill, Amy Layman (6) and Holly Morris, Marcie Poff (6)WP - Hysell (23-6)  LP - Hill (13-2)

Annie Van Wetzinga had two doubles and an RBI to lead Central to a 3-1 win over Roanoke and a spot in tomorrow's winner's bracket final against the winner of tonight's other winner's bracket semifinal between Muskingum and St. Mary's. Van Wetzinga's power aside, it was "small ball" employed by Central that was the difference in the game. Central broke through for a run in the fourth. Denise Barnard and Kris Hughes led off the inning with back-to-back singles and were sacrificed to third and second respectively by Van Wetzinga. Kelly Oliver then laid down a perfect bunt single that scored Barnard. In the sixth, Van Wetzinga doubled off the top of the left centerfield fence, moved to third on Oliver's bloop double behind third base and scored on an error. Central put up its third and final run in the top of the seventh. Molly Parrott led off with a sinlge, was sacrificed to second by Barnard and advanced to third on the play when Roanoke failed to cover the bag. Parrott scored when Hughes squeezed her home. Roanoke staged a mild rally in the last of the seventh, scoring on two hits and an error.

CENTRAL COACH GEORGE WARES on his team's alert baserunning and timely bunting that were major factors in winning this game: "We're not kidding anybody. We're not a great hitting team. We have to manufacture runs."

CENTRAL'S VAN WETZINGA on her team's "small ball": "That's 'Central softball.' We're not going to hit a lot of doubles and triples. It's the little things that matter. I'm just glad we're in the winner's bracket. Now we just have to stay focused on what we're doing."

ROANOKE COACH ALAN BAYSE: "Central is a very quality team. they have good pitching and good defense and they make good decisions. We have all that, too. We brought our heart today but we didn't bring our physical game. We'll do a little talking tonight, a little soul searching, and bring our game back out here tomorrow.

GAME 8 - (winner's bracket semifinal) UNDER WAY. St. Mary's (35-7) 000 000 0 -- 0-10-1 Muskingum (45-6) 002 000 x -- 2-6-1 Jennifer Gonerka, Jill Hocking (3) and Jennifer Miller Dani Keiffer and Shelli Manson WP - Keiffer (28-3) LP - Gonerka (16-2)

Back-to-back third-inning RBI singles by Julie Ryan and Mandy Carnes provided the only runs that Muskingum would need in racking up their 32nd consecutive win, one shy of the NCAA Division III record 33-game streak they posted last season. St. Mary's threatened in almost every inning, but the pitching of Dani Keiffer and an alert defense thwarted every Cardinal threat. St. Mary's had at least one baserunner in every inning and had at least one hit in every inning except one, but stranded 12 baserunners and advanced only two runners as far as third base.