NCAA Division II Softball Championship
Lock Haven has utilized the long balls, and Sarah Norris’ proved to be the biggest of the 2007 NCAA Division II Championship as her walk-off, solo blast with two outs in the bottom of the seventh kept LHU undefeated with a 6-5 win over Angelo State.
The home capped a slug-fest in which the two teams combined to knock four balls out of the park. Lock Haven moved to 51-3 on the season, while ASU dropped to 53-12 overall.
“We like to make things interesting,” LHU head coach Kelley Green said. “It was a battle between two great hitting teams and two great pitching teams. Sarah (Norris) came through with a nice home run. Home runs are always nice.”
“When I go up there, I’m looking for something in my zone,” Norris said. “She had been throwing me all over the place all game. I was waiting for something I like and just swung at it. That’s the way it goes in these types of games. It comes down to one or two hits. I knew it was high enough, but didn’t know if it was going to be fair.”
Lady Eagle Kristin Erb cruised through the first five innings and got staked to a 5-0 lead thanks to a second-inning, two-run home run from Amanda Gutmaker and a three-run blast in the fifth from Ilia Lopez.
Erb moved to 38-2 on the season as she allowed the five runs on 10 hits and struck out four in the complete-game effort.
The Rambelles didn’t go down with a fight, however, as they rallied in the top of the sixth to knot the game at five apiece.
Whitney Meeks and Brittany Cargill kicked off the five-run frame with a pair of singles. Following a fielder’s choice to third base, Macy Baker put the Rambelles on the board with a line drive up the middle that scored Cargill.
The next batter, Laura Lopez, lifted a blast over the left field fence that cut the LHU lead to 5-4. Kari Galm kept the inning alive with a base hit to shortstop. Another single by Dionne Lopez put the tying run at second, and Leina Braxton delivered with a drive that dropped in front of the Lady Eagles’ center fielder.
“It’s a tough game to lose. I’m proud of my team and the way they battled. To go out and get behind and tie it up late in the game against a pitcher who has a national championship and good numbers, I’m proud of their effort. I hope we can work our way back and get another chance to play them in this tournament.”
It appeared the two teams were heading for extra innings as Galm got Amanda Roosa to pop out and Ilia Lopez to strike out. Norris stepped up, however, and drove a pitch high and toward the foul pole in left field. The ball continued to carry, and it sailed over the fence to keep LHU perfect in the past two NCAA championship tournaments.
Galm fell to 32-7 on the campaign after allowing the six runs, only three earned, on 10 hits while striking out seven.
Angelo State will take on Florida Southern Saturday at Noon EDT in a rematch of the 2004 national title game. Lock Haven will face the winner of Friday night’s game between Cal State Stanislaus and SIU-Edwardsville Saturday at 5 p.m. EDT.