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Linfield Forces Second and Deciding Game for Division III Title
It took eight innnigs and a seeing-eye single, but Linfield gutted out a 1-0 victory over Washington-St. Louis to force a final and deciding game at the Division III national championship in Salem, Virginia.
Both Linfield starter Brittany Miller and Wash U. starter Laurel Sagartz turned in brilliant performances, but an eighth inning single by Linfield catcher Jenna Loop would be the difference in the defensive battle.
Miller kept Washington-St. Louis from ever making a serious offensive threat, giving up just two hits and not allowing a runner past first base. Meanwhile, Sagartz was constantly warding off run-scoring situations for Linfield. The Wildcats had a total of eight hits and left five runners stranded through the regulation seven innings.
"They're a very offensive-minded team. It's really hard to assume that you're going to be able to just blow it by them," Sagartz said.
In the top of the eighth, Linfield center fielder Stephanie Rice laced a one-out single to left center and would advance to third on a Jenny Marshall single. Marshall would steal second without a throw. Linfield head coach Jackson Vaughan gambled with a squeeze bunt that was played perfectly by Sagartz, who scooped up and backhanded the ball to catch Rice at home for the second out of the inning. What looked to be like a momentum gainer for Wash U. was overshadowed by Loop's ground ball single that just got past Bear shortstop Laura D'Andrea, scoring Marshall.
"I want another day of softball in my life," Loop said afterward.
Miller got three quick outs in the bottom of the seventh to force the deciding game tomorrow.
The championship game is slated for an 11 a.m. EDT start.
"I feel pretty confident going into tomorrow. I know we're capable of doing it (playing well), and I'm hoping that team shows up tomorrow," head coach Leticia Pineda-BouttÃ© said.
"We're just really hungry for this (national championship)," Miller said.
Photo courtesy of Linfield Sports Information