KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — William Jessup (Calif.) University got a pair of big plays late — one with the bat and the other with the glove — to post a 4-3 win over the University of Rio Grande in the 2022 NAIA Softball Championship Opening Round Klamath Falls Bracket, Monday afternoon, at Stillwell Stadium.
The second-seeded Warriors improved to 37-13 with the victory and will face top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Oregon Tech in Tuesday’s winner bracket final at 3 p.m. EDT.
Rio Grande (39-14), the No. 3 seed in the four-team, double-elimination bracket, suffered a third straight loss in the opposition’s final at-bat, will face fourth-seeded Cottey (Mo.) College in an elimination game on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
Cottey suffered a 4-3 loss in eight innings to host Oregon Tech in Monday’s second opening round game.
The Rio Grande-Cottey winner will advance to another elimination contest on Tuesday, at 8 p.m. EDT, against the William Jessup-Oregon Tech loser.
Rio Grande rallied from a 3-1 second inning deficit on Monday, scoring single runs in both the third and fifth innings to knot the score at 3-all.
Jessup regained the lead, though, on a one-out solo home run to left-center off the bat of Sam Lorge — her team-best 11th homer of the season.
The RedStorm tried to mount a rally of their own in the top of the seventh when sophomore Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH) moved into scoring position on a one-out double to center, but senior Shelby Schmitt (Fairfield, OH) followed with a flyout to center and junior Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) was robbed of a would-be, game-tying single to left-center thanks to a diving catch by Jessup shortstop Natalie Nash to end the game.
Rio Grande grabbed a 1-0 first inning lead on a two-out, run-scoring single by senior Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH), but the Warriors went in front in the bottom of the second with a trio of unearned runs. Shay Trent had an RBI double and Maddy Ybarra drove in another marker with a single.
The RedStorm cut the deficit in half in the top of the third thanks to consecutive two-out hits by Schmitt and Webb and an error on senior Zoe Doll’s (Minford, OH) popup to second base.
The tying run crossed in the top of the fifth when freshman pinch-hitter Megan Bazler (Portsmouth, OH) led off with a walk and Brisker reached on a fielder’s choice as her sacrifice bunt attempt advanced freshman Holly Alvoid (North Lewisburg, OH), who re-entered after the walk to Bazler, to second.
Schmitt hit into a fielder’s choice to leave runners at the corner and set the stage for an RBI single to left by Webb.
Webb and Schmidt both finished 2-for-4 in the loss for Rio Grande.
Senior Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) went the distance in the circle for the RedStorm and suffered the loss, allowing just five hits and the one earned run while striking out five.
Katie Blankenheim went the distance to get the win for William Jessup, allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out three.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.