Mankato Edges Augustana For Central Region Softball Title
4-3 Loss Ends Vikings Season
MANKATO, Minn. – Augustana University softball saw its 2017 season come to an end in the Central Region 2 Tournament Championship game falling 4-3 to No. 2 seed Minnesota State, Mankato (57-6). The Vikings were the No. 7 seed in the Central Region 2 Tournament and finish the season 40-16.
Augustana has won 40-plus games in 19 seasons in school history, including six times under the direction of 11th-year head coach Gretta Melsted.
Sarah Kennedy made history in her final game in a Viking uniform. Kennedy was 1 for 3 at the plate with her 32nd double of the season which is a new NCAA Division II single season record.
Shannon Petersen finished 1 for 3 at the plate hitting her team-leading 16th home run of the season. Kylie Rome had Augustana’s only other hit of the game, getting a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh.
Augustana used two pitchers in the game with Olivia Wolters making the start and going two innings before Lexy Pederson entered the game in the third. Wolters tossed 4.0 innings finishing with one strikeout. Pederson struck out one and allowed one run on three hits.
Minnesota State jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs on three hits in the top of the first inning. McKenzie Paap led off the game with a double to left and Jess Meidl followed with a two-run home run to right field giving the Mavericks a two-run lead.
The Vikings got their first base runner of the game when Maggie Dunnett walked with one out in the bottom of the third inning. Augustana was seeing a lot of pitches through the first three innings going deep into the count. Samantha Eisenreich lined our sharply for the second out in the third before Dunnett stole second with Kaylea Schorr at the plate. Schorr worked the count full before going down looking with a runner in scoring position to end the third.
In a battle between the NSIC Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Kennedy made history driving her 32nd double of the season to the gap in right center field setting a new NCAA Division II single season record.
Two batters later, Petersen knotted the game at 2 blasting her team-leading 16th home run of the season with a towering shot to left.
Pederson recorded two outs on just five pitches in the top of the fifth inning before Meidl worked a walk after a seven-pitch at-bat. Ashley Thell followed with a single to put runners on first and second with two outs for Amber Kral. Kral singled to center to drive in a run and give MSU a 3-2 lead.
Minnesota State added a run on a pair of hits in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 4-2. Schorr led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk for the Vikings setting up the heart of the order.
Ries struck out Kennedy and got Pickett to pop out to second bringing Petersen to the plate with two outs and a runner on first. Petersen narrowly missed her second two-run home run of the game sending a fly ball deep to left and just foul that if fair, would have tied the game. Petersen grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Augustana didn’t go down without a fight, getting a leadoff double from Rome to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Rome advanced to third on a groundout by Chandler and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Kara McDougall to make the score 4-3 but that would be all the Vikings would get falling just short in the sub-regional title game.
The Vikings finish the season 40-16, making their 24th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Augustana finished 21-5 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play which was good for a third-place finish in the final league standings.