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Linfield Stays Alive with 5-3 Win over Coe

RALEIGH, NC – Linfield College kept their hopes of a national championship alive Sunday afternoon by defeating Coe College 5-2. The Wildcats are fighting their way through the bracket after losing their first game of the NCAA Division III softball championship, but have clawed their way to two straight victories. 

“We felt confident with the way we were hitting today, but knew it could go either way,” head coach Jackson Vaughan said following the game. “We’re used to battling back. We had to play and win seven games in our regional tournament to get here. I think it could be an advantage because this is what we have been accustomed to all season long.” 

Linfield got on the board first in the opening stanza when Lisa Smith singled to first and advanced to third on a Shelly Steinke single to right field. Amanda Attleberger hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring Smith home and give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. 

Coe College bounced back in the top half of the second inning when Ashley Leonard stepped in and took an Ellie Schultz pitch over the fence to tie the game at one run apiece. 

The Wildcats would strike again in the fourth inning when Stephanie Morgan doubled to left-center, bringing in Meredith Brunette from first base to reclaim the lead 2-1. 

The Kohawks would answer a score with a score in the top half of the fifth inning when Jana Bradley doubled up the middle to score April Kalmes, who had come in to pinch run earlier in the inning. 

With the game tied at 2-2 in the fifth inning, it was Linfield senior Steinke who took matters into her own hands. With two runners on base, Steinke hit a towering ball deep to left-center for a home run, scoring Stephanie Rice and Jena Loop to put the Wildcats up 5-2, a lead that they would not surrender. 

“I stepped in and just wanted to make contact” said the senior from Canby, Ore. “Anytime we can get a few runs on the scoreboard, it is great because our defense always does a great job and we can usually hold on.” 

Linfield used the one-two punch of Brittany Miller and Kendra Strahm to lead it to victory while Ellie Schultz went five out of six innings for Coe in the losing effort. 

Jena Bradley and Ashley Leonard both had two hits and one RBI a piece for Coe College. On the other side of the field it was Stephanie Rice and Shelly Steinke with two hits including the three-RBI homerun by Steinke in the fifth. 

Coe bows out of the tournament, while Linfield advances to play the winner of the Muskingum/Ithaca matchup tonight at 7 p.m.