MSOE Escapes Elimination Twice at NCAA Regional, Advances to Final Day

MSOE Escapes Elimination Twice at NCAA Regional, Advances to Final Day

Release courtesy of MSOE athletics communications

WAVERLY, Iowa – Win or go home. That was the task set in front of No. 3 seed MSOE this morning when they opened up day two of the NCAA Wartburg Regionals. They're not going home. The Raiders live to see another day as they take down No. 1 seed St. Olaf and No. 5 seed Webster in two tense pitchers duels.

No. 3 seed MSOE RAIDERS – 3
No. 1 seed St. Olaf – 1

No. 5 seed Webster – 0
No. 3 seed MSOE RAIDERS – 2

After their loss to No. 4 seed Coe yesterday evening, No. 3 seed MSOE (35-9, 15-5 NACC North) was sent to the elimination bracket and had to go up against the top team in the regional, No. 1 seed St. Olaf. The Red & White took advantage of some erratic pitching from the Oles starter and got two runs in the top of the first via a Caitlyn Spreitzer walk and a Jenna Trewyn single up the middle. Trewyn would plate another run for the Raiders in the top of the second with another single to put MSOE up by three. St. Olaf cut down the lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the third but Lorrin Pondo took over from there. She kept the Oles off the scoreboard the rest of the way, stranding six of their baserunners in the 3-1 victory.

Another elimination game was on the docket for the Raiders, but this time the other team was fighting to keep their tournament hopes alive as well. No. 5 Webster proved to be quite difficult for the Red & White to solve, but the Gorloks could not figure out MSOE either. Pondo threw yet another great game, scattering four hits throughout seven innings of shutout ball. The Raiders finally broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with the only runs they needed. Grace Salaja led off the inning with a single through the left side to start off the frame and Trewyn doubled her home one batter later. MSOE then went small ball. Lauren Stefanczyk laid down a picture-perfect sac bunt to move pinch-runner Reagan Jordan to third. Celine Pacheco then grounded out to shortstop which brough Jordan home. The Gorloks went down in order in the seventh, punching the Raiders ticket to the final day of the regional.

Head coach Kyle Knoblauch on heading into Sunday: "Obviously we would like to be the undefeated team, but I think we are in a good spot. I think St. Thomas is an excellent program and we are looking forward to playing them. For losing your first game in a tournament with six teams, we feel pretty fortunate that we are in this spot and we've earned it. We're excited and we will be ready."

Sophomore centerfielder Grace Salaja on being one of the table setters all season: "I'm not going to hit any bombs or anything. I just try to get on base to help the team out."

Junior infielder Lauren Stefanczyk on the team's mindset moving forward: "We just have to keep pounding it into everyone's heads that we are really good. We have the ability to go out there and win this regional. Yesterday did not go how we planned it, but we actually had a lot of energy for being a late night/early morning. We just need to keep telling ourselves 'we can do this, we can do this'."

Senior starting pitcher Lorrin Pondo on staying focused during a pitchers duel: "My teammates definitely help me stay focused. When I'm pitching, I definitely get in the zone and tune everything else out. With the support of my teammates, it's really helped my mindset this year."

Freshman catcher Jenna Trewyn on playing in her first regional: "It's awesome. Yesterday I definitely had a bunch of nerves. We've been a gritty team all year and I just have a lot of confidence in us. I knew we were going to come out today and that we were going to do great. I definitely calmed down today and felt a lot better."

Hits – Kara McKenna and Jenna Trewyn (3)
Runs Scored – Grace Salaja (2)
RBIs – Jenna Trewyn (3)
Stolen Bases – Kara McKenna (2)
Strikeouts – Lorrin Pondo (19)

The Raiders' two wins today keep them alive in the NCAA Regionals. They will need two more tomorrow to take home the title, starting at 10:00 am against No. 2 seed St. Thomas, the only undefeated team left in the bracket.