Lutes win in Series opener, 8-0
There were so many reasons Pacific Lutheran could have come out a tad flat for the NCAA Division III Softball College World Series.
• Jetlag: The Lutes have flown nearly 5,500 miles in two days – finally arriving in Salem, Va., on Wednesday.
• Glad to be here: It is the Lutes’ second appearance in the final eight of the NCAA tournament, and the first at this site.
• Their opponent: Luther College of Iowa knows what this is all about. The Norse have been to Salem three consecutive seasons for the national championships.
But, no, the Lutes came to play, and earned an 8-0 victory in five innings over the Norse at the Moyer Complex on Friday.
Up next is an opponent PLU (42-11) is very familiar with – defending national champion Linfield, a 9-5 winner over Ohio Northern. The Lutes defeated the Wildcats (43-5) to win the Northwest Conference tournament. The two teams play Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT.
PLU’s first-round matchup was not expected to be easy. Norse ace Becca Girvan was the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference pitcher of the year and was named a first-team All-American on Thursday night. She won a school-record 29 games and came in with a 1.02 earned-run average.
Girvan was erratic (five walks, two hit batters), and surrendered all the runs PLU needed in the third inning.
“We tried taking her best pitch (curveball) away,” PLU coach Erin Van Nostrand said. “When we did that, she got rattled.”
Girvan hit Amanda Hall with a pitch to load the bases in the third. Two batters later, PLU’s Lindsey Matsunaga lined a two-run double to left field for the first runs. Haley Harshaw followed with a two-run single to give the Lutes a 4-0 advantage.
“Lindsey had one hit the whole tournament (up to that point), and Girvan threw a curveball and she got her hands inside it. It was a great at-bat,” Van Nostrand said.
That was all PLU standout pitcher Stacey Hagensen – a second-team All-American herself – needed. She gave up two hits, and now has given up just two runs in 31 innings in the NCAA tournament.
Now it is on to Linfield, a team the Lutes have beaten in four out of seven games this season.