Release courtesy of MSOE athletics communications
WAVERLY, Iowa – MSOE softball came into Sunday with a chance to win the NCAA Waverly Regional and advance to the 2021 NCAA DIII Softball Championships, but they would have to win two games to earn it. They came so close to completing half of that requirement. The Raider led St. Thomas 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh but the Tommies scored three times to eliminate the Red & White, bringing an end to their season.
No. 3 Seed MSOE RAIDERS – 3
No. 2 Seed St. Thomas (Minn.) – 4
HOW IT HAPPENED
No. 3 seed MSOE (35-10, 15-5 NACC North) beat both St. Olaf and Webster on Saturday to keep their 2021 season going and two more opponents would have to fall in order for the Raiders to make it to the next round in Salem, Virginia. Waiting for them on Sunday morning in the first of two possible contests was No. 2 seed Saint Thomas who came into today as the only unbeaten team left in the Waverly Regional. The Raiders found the scoreboard first when Kara McKenna connected on a single that scored Delaney Martino in the third inning. The Tommies tied the ballgame in the fifth, but the Red & White answered right back. MSOE scored two in the sixth, one via a past ball and another on a catcher interference call on St. Thomas. The Raiders took their 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but a victory was not in the cards. St. Thomas scored three runs in their last at-bats to walk off and win the ballgame 4-3. The loss was the second for the Red & White on the weekend and eliminated them from contention.
Head coach Kyle Knoblauch on how the team bounced back from an opening game loss to get where they were today: "We're a gritty team. Nothing is given to us. We have displayed an ability to bounce back from tough losses throughout the year. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to come back and play like we did yesterday. To win two big games yesterday and to show up at 8:00 am today for warmups, they were on point. We were ready for today."
Head coach Kyle Knoblauch on his two senior pitchers: "These two have pitched in some of the biggest games in program history and are as responsible as anybody for our success. The unselfishness of these two is incredible."
Senior pitcher Emily Wiederholt on adapting to a new role: "I tried to be there for Lorrin (Pondo), but just in a different way. I helped keep the bench up, was there for the pitchers if I saw anything, and just kept everyone focused."
Junior infielder Kara McKenna on how it felt to be back in the regionals after the lost season of 2020: "Ever since we did it in 2019, we knew this is where we want to be and that this is where we should be. We knew that we could make a run at this at the start of the season, and it was what we expected out of ourselves. We have been working since the fall for this moment so to get here is really rewarding. I could not be prouder of this group."
Junior outfielder Caitlyn Spreitzer on the bond that the team has: "This team is just united in a way that I've never experienced before. Everyone wants the same thing, and everyone works hard. Everyone has each other's back. I'm so proud to be a part of this group."
MSOE STAT TRACKER
Hits – Six with one
Runs Scored – Three with one
RBIs – Kara McKenna (1)
Stolen Bases – Celine Pacheco (1)
Strikeouts – Lorrin Pondo (4)
WHO'S ON DECK
Another incredible season has come to an end for the Raiders. They finished off a 2021 season that culminated in their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance at 35-10, a mark that broke the record for wins in season. They will try to threepeat starting in February of 2022.