HOUSTON – In a rematch of Wednesday’s pitching duel, first-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Americans Kristin Erb and Lizzy Prescott duked it out again, but the result was the same as Prescott’s Humboldt State squad advanced to the NCAA Championship game, defeating Erb’s Lock Haven team by a score of 1-0 in 17 innings.
Humboldt State (56-18) advances to Saturday’s NCAA Division II Softball Championship Game at 3:30 pm CDT, and will face the winner of the “if necessary” game between Emporia State and St. Edward’s. Lock Haven, the Mid Atlantic Region Champions, finish their season with a 49-8 record.
Humboldt State’s Lizzy Prescott retired the first 14 batters she faced before Lock Haven’s Erica Eisenbise singled for the first Lady Eagles hit of the game. She then buckled back down to work, retiring the next 22 batters she faced before Lock Haven’s next baserunner reached via error in the 13th inning. Prescott finished having thrown 220 pitches, 174 for strikes.
Lumberjacks right fielder Lindsay Warren led off the top of the ninth inning with just the second hit of the day off of Lock Haven’s Kristin Erb, who was twirling a gem of her own for the Lady Eagles. Prior to Warren’s hit, Erb had retired 11 straight batters and had not surrendered a hit in six innings, since allowing a one-out second inning single to Ashley Oltjenbruns.
The game got dramatic with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Lock Haven’s Sarah Norris caught hold of a Prescott pitch and sent it deep to center, just beyond the breakaway fence in centerfield. Humboldt State centerfielder Chrissy Motzny was able to corral the ball for the third and final out of the inning as she tumbled over the breakaway fence, sending the game to the 10th inning.
Both pitchers continued trading zeroes until the top of the 17th inning when Humboldt State pushed across a run. Consecutive errors to lead off the inning gave the Lumberjacks runners on first and second for Natalie Galletly, who ripped a ground ball single up the middle for the first run of the game, nearly four hours after first pitch.
In the bottom of the 17th, Prescott recorded her NCAA Division II Championship record-tying 20th strikeout, a mark previously set by Kathy Slaten of Cal State Northridge on May 19, 1985, in a game against Akron. She recorded her record 21st strikeout to end the game, retiring the last 11 batters she faced and did not allow a hit over the last 12.1 innings she pitched.
Erb, who threw 202 pitches in the loss, struck out 12, walked one and did not allow an earned run in the contest. She finishes her junior season with a 43-8 record.
Prescott tossed 220 pitches, striking out an NCAA Division II Championship record 21 batters. She pitched a one-hit shutout over 17 innings and did not allow a walk over the four-hour, two-minute marathon.