The Case Western Reserve University Spartans have clinched a berth to the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma! After falling to 17th-ranked Hope College by a score of 3-1 in game two of the best-for-three series, the Spartans knocked off Hope 4-1 in the third and decisive game to send CWRU to the World Series as the Holland, Michigan Super Regional Champions.
It is the first time the Spartans are heading to the NCAA Division III Softball Championships in program history. Sophomore pitcher Ilissa Hamilton was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher after going 2-1 with a 2.47 earned run average and nine strikeouts in 17 innings pitched. Senior Katie Wede was named the Most Outstanding Player in the series, collecting four hits and scoring two runs during the three-game series.
CWRU moved to 37-10 overall on the campaign, while Hope concluded their season with a 34-12 overall record.
Game 1: Hope 3, CWRU 1
The Spartans wasted no time in the first game on Saturday afternoon, as they got out to the early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when senior Maren Waldner singled up the middle to score Wede.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the third when Hope struck for three runs in the inning after a RBI triple from Hayley Reitsma, a RBI double from Sierra Mutschler and a RBI triple from Savannah Dixon, giving the Flying Dutch a 3-1 lead.
CWRU would get the potential game-tying run on base in both the fourth and seventh innings, but ultimately, would be unable to plate the equalizer in either frame.
Hamilton started and went three innings, as she took the loss and fell to 19-6 on the season. Freshman Sidney Brannam pitched four innings in relief for the Spartans, allowing zero runs on three hits, while striking out three batters. Sydney Jones earned the win for Hope in the first game, improving to 21-6.
Game 2: CWRU 4, Hope 1
The third and final game of the NCAA Super Regional in Holland, Michigan was a pitcher's duel, as both teams were held scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when CWRU erupted for four runs in the inning, including RBI's credited to Hamilton, freshman Arisa Cleaveland and Doyle.
The Flying Dutch were able to get on the board in the bottom of the seventh after a solo home run from Noelle Jackson, but that was all Hamilton allowed in another outstanding pitching performance. She allowed one run on six hits during the second game of the day and struck out two batters as she improved to 20-6 on the season. Katie Singer was credited with the loss for Hope, falling to 11-5 on the year
The NCAA Division III Softball Championships will be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from May 24th through the 29th. Stay tuned to athletics.case.edu for more information regarding dates, times and opponents when made available during the week.