2016 NCAA Division III National Champions
@Patriot_sb opens with 4-1 win over No. 1 Marlins
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Virginia Wesleyan (48-3)
UT Tyler (45-4)
5/25/2017 | Oklahoma City, Okla. | Attendance: 0
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UT Tyler100201X480
Win: Alaina Kissinger (25-2) 5.151114
Loss: Hanna Hull (29-3) 6.084458
M. Glaubke (VAWES) 302000
Kaylee Prather (UTTSB) 412000
Cheyenne Thompson (UTTSB) 322111

Thursday, May 25, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu


OKLAHOMA CITY – Cheyenne Thompson and Whitney Romero each hit solo home runs and Alaina Kissinger and Miranda Leal were brilliant in the pitcher’s circle to lead No. 4 UT Tyler to a 4-1 win over No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan on the opening day of the NCAA Division III Softball Championship at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium Complex.

The Patriots (45-4) hit multiple home runs for the ninth time this season and held their opponent to one run or fewer for the 30th time with Kissinger and Leal limiting the Marlins (48-3) to only five hits. UT Tyler will now play Amherst College at 6:30 p.m. on Friday after the Mammoths (34-10) earned a 4-3 win over Trine in eight innings in the first game of the tournament on Thursday.

“I’m just really proud of our effort,” UT Tyler coach Mike Reed said. “We knew we were playing a great team with an amazing pitcher. I thought we did a good job of battling early. We all got to take a deep breath with the big swing by Cheyenne and then we had chances throughout with Alaina throwing a great game and allowing us to stay calm. We just kept competing in the box and was a tough battle like we expected. It was a great start to the week.”

Kissinger (25-2) struck out four, walked only one and didn’t allow a run until the sixth inning when Virginia Wesleyan put together a pair of doubles to break up the shutout. Kissinger, who is now 69-4 in her career, exited the game in the sixth with a 3-1 lead and turned the ball over to Leal who would record her second save of the season by getting the final five outs of the game with three strike outs and no hits allow. A freshman from San Antonio, Leal struck out the final batter of the game in her 16th relief appearance of the year.

Kaylee Prather and Thompson led the Patriots with two hits each, while Andrea Gonzales extend a seven-game hitting streak with a leadoff single in the third. Mel Hinojosa and Hannah Moore also had singles in the game, while Romero drilled a 2-2 pitch over the left-center field wall to lead off the sixth and give the Patriots a 2-0 lead. A batter later, Prather tripled over the center fielder’s head and would score on an illegal pitch. At 3-1, the Patriots tacked on their final run in the sixth with Hinojosa hitting a two-out RBI single to left field to score Thompson who had led off the inning with a single.

Prather is now hitting .503 with 85 total hits this season, including six triples which matches Raven Rodriguez (2014) for the single-season program record. Thompson's home run was her ninth and she now leads the team with 53 RBI, while Romero has three home runs and seven RBI in only 21 at-bats this season. 

Hannah Hull fell to 29-3 with the loss for the Marlins after surrendering the eight hits and four earned runs to the Patriots. Richardson and Howerin each had doubles for VWU with Howerin driving in the only run of the game for the team. 

VWU and Trine will meet at 11 a.m. on Friday in the first elimination game of the tournament with that winner to play the UT Tyler-Amherst loser in another elimination game at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The UT Tyler-Amherst winner will not have to play on Saturday and will come back to the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium Complex for a noon game on Sunday needing only one win to advance to the finals.

UT Tyler is now 14-9 all-time at the NCAA DIII Softball Championship and is 4-2 in its opening game.