College World Series next for PLU softball
TYLER, Texas – When Stacey Hagensen’s drop ball froze the opposing batter and was called for the final strike – the Pacific Lutheran University ace hesitated.
It took her a few moments to gather her senses and realize that the Lutes had just finished off a sweep of their NCAA Division III regional softball tournament.
Aside from a shaky seventh inning, Hagensen was nearly untouchable for the second-seeded Lutes in a 4-0 victory over No. 1 seed and host Tyler University in the championship game Monday.
The Lutes (41-11), who set a school record for most victories in a season, advance to the eight-team College Softball World Series starting Friday in Salem, Va.
“This was unbelievable,” PLU coach Erin Van Nostrand said. “To get through the hardest regional in the country, and sweep it 4-0 … it is shocking. The last two days is as well as we have played all year.”
The Patriots (39-9), who earned their way into a title-game matchup against PLU with a 2-0 victory Sunday over Claremont-Scripps-Mudd, usually are a sure-handed defensive team.
But in the third inning Monday, two Tyler errors set up all the runs the Lutes needed.
With one out, Kaaren Hatlen singled home a run, and Megan Hall followed with an RBI double to give PLU a 3-0 lead.
In the seventh inning, all then that separated the Lutes from their first World Series trip was Hagensen getting three more outs.
With one out, Hagensen hit Rachel Howell with a pitch. After striking out Joey Cronin, Hagensen threw a wild pitch, then hit Brittney Batten with a pitch to load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate.
Van Nostrand sent assistant coach Greg Seeley out to settle down the senior.
“It was better sending the lawyer out (Seeley is an attorney),” Van Nostrand said, “than the angry New York girl.”
Hagensen quickly got two strikes on Carli Wheeler. Then pitcher painted the outside corner against the Tyler center fielder with her drop ball.
Almost in a daze, Hagensen walked toward her dugout as players and coaches mobbed her.
“It took me a second to realize the game was over,” Hagensen said.
Hagensen was named the tournament’s most oustanding player. She pitched all 26 innings for PLU, allowing 19 hits and two runs while striking out 21.
The Lutes, who arrived back in Parkland late Monday, are expected to take a red-eye flight to Virginia tonight.
“To be on the national scene like that, it is huge for the program, and huge for PLU,” Van Nostrand said.