Hillcats earn first-ever NCAA Softball Championship victory

RSU Athletics 
Jake Hudspeth

DENVER – No. 5 seed Rogers State softball (54-10) earned their first ever win in the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in a 7-2 win over No. 4 seed Southern Indiana (49-12) on Thursday. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group for the way they showed out today,” said Head Coach Andrea Vaughan. “As I told them in the locker room, I think we are playing our best ball right now and are right where we want to be. I couldn’t be more proud of Andrea Morales. Obviously, she has had a great year for us and showed out today in the circle with 10 strikeouts and did her thing as always. We also got a big timely hit from our freshman catcher [Abbey Rogers] who has been clutch for us all season. I’m really proud of our offense; proud of our defense. It feels really good to walk away with that first win.” 

The Hillcats got on the board first in the second inning as they were aggressive on the base paths with Bridgett Morales earning a leadoff walk to start the inning. Rebecca Bell pinch ran for her and eventually moved to second on a Jaylan Gibson single to left. Both Bell and Gibson moved to second and third, respectively on a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position. On her birthday, Kimberli Presnell, who went 3-for-3 in the game, came through with a scorching RBI single up the middle to drive in Bell for an early 1-0 lead.  

After allowing two hits in the bottom half of the frame, Andrea Morales bounced back and sat down two Screaming Eagle batters on strikes to end the threat. 

RSU went back to work in the top of the third as Nicole Price reached on a bunt base hit to third. An infield single to third by Lana Gass put runners at first and second with one out. Abbey Rogers extended the Hillcat lead to 4-0 as she uncorked on a three-run blast to the left field corner plating Gass and Price. 

USI ended the shutout in the bottom of the fourth and cut the lead to 4-1. A leadoff solo home run to left center put the Eagles on the board. They tightened the deficit even more in the bottom of the sixth with another leadoff home run to bring the score to 4-2. USI looked to push more runs across as they had bases loaded with no outs. Thankfully, RSU worked out of the jam with a fielder’s choice that gunned down the runner coming home followed by back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat. 

In the top of the seventh, the Hillcats broke the game open as Presnell leadoff with a double to left center. Chelsea Spain moved her over with a close groundout to second. Price brought Presnell in with a hard-hit RBI single to the shortstop pushing the score to 5-2. Tailee Reding scored Price and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error by the third baseman to go up 6-2. Abbey Rogers capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to center that plated Reding to extend the lead to 7-2. 

After a leadoff bunt single to start the bottom of the seventh, USI got three quick outs to secure the 7-2 win for the Hillcats. 

Andrea Morales (35-4) earned the complete game win with 10 strikeouts and only allowing two walks. Allie Goodin (16-4) took the loss. 

After earning the victory, RSU stays in the winner’s bracket and will face off against No. 8 seed Cal State Dominguez Hills tomorrow at 12 p.m. CST. Fans can watch the action live on NCAA.com and catch the game on KRSC 91.3 FM or RSURadio.com with Josh Haley on the call.

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