Four NCAA Div. III championships
Luther jumps on NCAA softball finals bus
PELLA, IOWA—Luther College burst out of the gates Monday morning as the Norse captured a 3-2 victory over Wis.-River Falls to win the NCAA Division III Pella, Iowa Softball Regional and punch its ticket to the national finals.
The two team's had split 1-0 matchups earlier in the tournament, forcing a third and final meeting. Luther (40-7) advances to the eight-team final in Salem, Va., and will play the winner of the Tyler, Texas Regional at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) Friday. It's the third straight national appearance for the Norse.
Luther jumped out early in the first inning when catcher Shari Huber got on base by a throwing error and advanced to second by another Falcon error. Third basemen Lauran Snyder punched a single to right field to bring in Huber. Catcher Kelsey Kittleson later crossed the plate when designated player Abby Christian clubbed a single to right field. The Norse tacked on another tally in the fourth inning when first baseman Morgan Franklin drove in left fielder Kelsey Weindruck.
Wis.-River Falls (34-15) battled back in the sixth inning. The Falcons belted two straight singles from second baseman Hayley Buchanan and center fielder Amanda Ryder. The pair advanced with the help of a wild pitch before Buchanan scored on a throwing error from a failed pickoff attempt. Catcher Patty Olson drove in the second run with a single to left field. But the rally ended when Luther caught a foul ball for the inning's final out.
Luther's Becca Girvan improved to 29-5 and was named the tournament's Most Oustanding Player. She yielded two runs, none earned, on four hits while striking out five and walking two.
Rose Tusa (28-8) of the Falcons took the loss. The all-tournament team pick allowed six hits and three runs, one earned. Tusa struck out three and walked none.
Also named to the tournament team were Huber and Kittleson of Luther and Ryder, Buchanan and first baseman Ashley Goettl of Wis.-River Falls.