Trine softball is one win from an NCAA Tournament regional championship.
The top-seeded Thunder pulled away from No. 2 seed North Central on Saturday at Trine and won 8-4 to advance to today's regional championship series. It was Trine's 14th victory in a row and it improved to 14-1 on its home field this season.
The Thunder (29-11) went in front for good in the fifth inning Saturday on shortstop Amanda Prather's two-out, two-run double. Ace Adrienne Rosey pitched the final three innings out of the bullpen to earn her second victory in as many days.
“Our kids really fought hard,” Trine coach Don Danklefsen said. “They threw a couple jabs, we came back with some big punches of our own. We just never lost confidence; ... really proud of the fight from us today.”
The Thunder led 4-1 after three innings, but North Central (26-12) tied it at 4 in the fifth with a run off Rosey on two singles and a steal of home.
In the bottom of the inning, Trine put a runner on second with first baseman Ashley Swartout coming up. Swartout had ripped a two-run home run, her sixth homer of the season, in the third and the Cardinals intentionally walked her. That brought up Prather, who delivered the game's decisive hit.
“I took it kind of personal they walked Ashley,” Prather said. “I just really wanted to, ... provide for the team.”
Prather has 40 RBIs this season and went 2 for 3 with two runs scored Saturday.
“Any time you walk someone to get to the (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) leader in RBIs, it's a good thing for us,” Danklefsen said. “Big hit by a big-time player.”
Third baseman Scarlett Elliott added an RBI double to score Prather before Trine was retired in the fifth and center fielder Ellie Trine singled home backstop Ainsley Phillips in the sixth to complete the scoring.
Ellie Trine had two hits and scored twice and Phillips went 3 for 3 with two RBI.
Rosey, the MIAA Pitcher of the Year, tossed a shutout with 12 strikeouts Friday in a tournament-opening win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was called upon again against the Cardinals after starter Anna Koeppl and reliever Lauren Clausen combined to give up three runs on four hits in four innings.
The 5-foot-9 Rosey (13-7) struck out five, walked none and gave up three hits. Danklefsen said all three pitchers will be available today.
In the double-elimination regional, Trine will have two chances today against the winner of today's early game between North Central and UW-Eau Claire to notch the one win necessary to move on to the Super Regional round, as the Thunder did in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. The first game of the championship series will start about noon, with the second game at 2 p.m., if necessary.