TYLER– The host UT Tyler Patriots outlasted
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 2-0 Sunday evening to advance to the championship round
of the Tyler Regional of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Heather Abshire tossed a one-hit gem and Rachel Howell
knocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the
Patriots (39-8) into Monday's championship round, where they will face the
Lutes of Pacific Lutheran.
Abshire struck out three batters and walked five while
throwing 110 pitches to earn the complete-game victory. She lowered her
tournament ERA to 0.58 and upped her weekend record to 3-0.
The Patriots needed every one of Abshire's outs, as CMS
freshman pitcher Hayley Schultz matched her frame-for-frame through five
innings. Schultz pitched all but one-third of an inning for the Athenas over
the weekend, and finished the tournament with a 2-2 record and a 2.10 ERA.
In Sunday's game against UT Tyler, Schultz pitched six
innings, scattering five hits and two earned runs.
The Patriots – and Howell in particular – avenged
Saturday's second-round loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. In that game, Schultz
struck out Howell on a 13-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning with UT Tyler
Sunday's game featured a different story. After Abshire
drew a one-out walk in the sixth inning, Howell drilled a 3-2 pitch high off
the UT Tyler Ballpark scoreboard in left-field, scoring herself and Lauren
Robenalt, who was on base as a pinch-runner.
The Athenas (30-15) knocked their lone hit in the top of
the fourth inning when Emily Lopez led off with a double. Abshire recovered and
induced two groundouts and flyball out to end the inning.
CMS threatened again in the top of the sixth when Harmony
Palmer drew a walk to lead off the inning and then moved to second when
Michaela Ecklund's grounder resulted in a throwing error. With two on and no
out, Lopez lined out to Tyler shortstop Ashlee Johnson, who then relayed a
throw to Howell at first base to catch Ecklund for the double-play.
Howell went 2-for-3 in the game for the Patriots. Johnson
and Brittney Batten also knocked hits in the game.
The Patriots meet Pacific Lutheran on Monday, with game
time scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PLU needs to win just one game to claim the region
championship, while the Patriots will need to take two from the Lutes, who are
undefeated in the tournament.
Should UT Tyler win the 1:30 p.m. game, the teams will
re-convene for the championship game approximately fourty-five minutes after the
completion of the first contest.