Rick Noren didn’t hide the disappointment of how Saint Martin’s played in two NCAA West Regional softball games, which included Friday’s 6-4 loss to Chico State ending on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning at Karl Brooks Field in St. George, Utah.
Mistakes, including two third-inning errors leading to two unearned runs, were what Noren called “uncharacteristic” of his team, and a defeat that ends the Saints’ season at 41-20.
“You have to be at your best,” the Saints’ coach said. “We didn’t show it at this tournament, but we’re competitive with all these teams.”
The Saints outhit the Wildcats led by Kim Nelson (3-for-3, RBI) and tied the game 4-4 in the top of the seventh on a Nelson RBI single, but Chico’s Brynn Lesovsky hit her second two-run home run off of SMU pitcher Sam Munger to end the game.
Lesovsky also had a two-run homer in that fifth which gave Chico State a 4-3 lead after the Saints’ first lead came in the fourth at 3-2 when Nelson scored with the bases loaded.
Four years removed from a nine-win season, Saint Martin’s now has made NCAA regionals two out of the past three seasons and won two Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title during that same span.
The next step, Noren said, is winning a regional and elevating the Saints on a national stage, which Noren believes is around the corner.
“It really is about the kids believing in themselves at all costs,” he said, “and we’ve got to teach that.”