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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Makenna Hartline bats Saturday in Angola, as the Hornets won the Super Regional.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Angola's Claire Ryan bats in the Super Regional, where the Hornets will emerge victorious. She reached first on a throwing error and eventually scored on a Catherine Porter sacrifice fly. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Angola's Michaela Hartline prepares to hit the ball in the first inning and will reach base on an error. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017 10:10 pm

Trine softball advances to nationals

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

ANGOLA – Neither Mother Nature nor Wisconsin-Oshkosh could prevent the Trine softball team from securing a place in the NCAA Division III national championships.

After enduring a three-hour weather delay, and squandering a five-run lead, the Thunder scored runs in the sixth and seventh innings to win 7-5 in the Super Regional at the SportONE/Parkview Softball Field and earn a trip to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Trine will be one of eight teams competing for a national title.

“It’s a dream come true to get back there,” said catcher Catherine Porter, who had the biggest hit of the long day for Trine, a single in the sixth to give the Thunder the lead for good.

Its quest for a national championship, after sweeping Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the best-of-3 series, will begin 11 a.m. Thursday against Amherst.

Trine had a 2-0 lead before the weather rolled in prior to the second inning – Kaylee Fox had an RBI single and Porter had a sacrifice fly – then, Michaela Hartline’s double in the second inning brought home twin sister Makenna and Lainey McCue, before a Claire Ryan RBI made it 5-0.

But it wouldn’t last.

Wisconsin-Oshkosh tied it with four runs in the third, when Abby Menting’s two-run single was followed by Amanda McIllhany’s two-run double and a Tanya Hammitt run off an error in the fifth. While Trine is a young team with seven freshmen and three sophomores, its experience recovered the lead; lone senior Porter singled in the sixth to bring home Fox, who had reached first on a walk. Ryan’s sacrifice fly in the seventh cemented the victory.

McCue was 3 for 4 with two runs. Porter was 2 for 3 with two RBI. Ryan was 1 for 3 with two RBI for Trine (37-8).

“We just had to relax and focus and swing hard, like we’ve been doing,” said McCue, named Most Outstanding Player of the Super Regional.

For Wisconsin-Oshkosh (33-13), Menting was 3 for 4 with a run and two RBI.

Kate Saupe (5-1) got the victory, pitching 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, allowing a run and three hits and striking out one. Danielle Ray got her sixth save.

“The advantage that we get is we get to see Kate practice,” said Trine coach Donnie Danklefsen, who got 2 1/3 innings from starter Hannah Kampmann. “We know (Saupe) can do it. There’s not a doubt in our minds that she has the physical skills. It’s just that mental step of controlling her emotion and trusting herself. … She was lights out in the regional and today, she came in and did an awesome job. … She had no walks. She throws a hard ball and is a leftie, and she was huge.”

The Titans' Sara Brunlieb (14-7) struck out four but walked five, allowing six hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

At the 2014 national championships, Trine lost to Montclair State and East Texas Baptist.

“Our goal my freshman year was to get there. We got there. But we didn’t get the result we wanted. We went home too early. This year, we need to get there and stay there for a long time,” Porter said.