The Northwestern College softball team lost to St. Francis (Ill.) 5-2 (11 innings) in an elimination game of the Southern Oregon Bracket at the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round played this afternoon in Medford, Ore. The loss ends the Red Raiders tremendous season with a 36-13 record.
St. Francis broke a 2-2 tie with three unearned runs in the top of the 13th inning off Northwestern starter Kayla Tindall (18-7). Abby Balandis hit a leadoff double and went to third on a wild pitch. Kayla Garcia drew a walk to put runners at the corners and Balandis then scored after an error on a ball hit by Jensen Tchorzynski. Ashley Galason followed with a two-run single to put the Fighting Saints up by three.
Northwestern tried to rally in the bottom of the 13th, putting two runners on base with singles by Emily Bosch and Emma Schnell and sending the tying run to the plate but St. Francis pitcher Morghan Dieringer recorded the final out on a pop-up to end it.
Tindall pitched outstanding despite the loss, giving up 10 hits and four earned runs in the full 11 innings. The senior walked three, struck out eight and finisher her brilliant career in second place all-time with 446 strikeouts.
Both teams had chances to win, putting runners on base several times over the final innings, but Tindall and Dieringer, along with their defense behind them, were able to escape without giving up a run.
Northwestern totaled nine hits, led by Madison Beaver, Jessica Sandbulte and Emily Bosch with two hits each. Sandbulte hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first giving Northwestern a 1-0 lead. Jensen Boger added an RBI single in the sixth, scoring Bosch who had hit a double, to tie the game at two. Tindall and Emma Schnell had the other hits for Head Coach Chris Nachtigall’s club.
Dieringer (24-3) matched Tindall pitch-for-pitch, giving up nine hits, two runs and striking out eight. Galason went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Garcia totaled two hits, including a solo home run in the second inning.
Earlier in the day, Northwestern lost a thriller to No.1 seed and 8th-ranked Southern Oregon 3-2 in a winner’s bracket game. Down 3-0, the Red Raiders scored two runs and had the tying run at third base in the top of the sixth before Southern Oregon reliever Morgan Jones recorded the final out on a ground ball.
Schnell (17-5) took the loss, giving up six hits and two earned runs in four-plus innings. Tindall pitched the final two innings, striking out five of the seven batters she faced.
Tindall and Bosch both went 2-for-3 and scored a run to pace the Red Raiders at the plate. Cheyenne Wilcke an Katie Elliott had an RBI in the sixth inning and Beaver and Boger had the other two hits.
This marks the final game for the seven Red Raider seniors: Amanda Everhart, Jessica Sandbulte, Kayla Tindall, Jensen Boger, Cheyenne Wilcke, Katie Elliott and Renee Choquette.