Tigers finish second in NCAC Tournament after forcing championship finale Sunday

Monday, May 9, 2022

Sixth-ranked DePauw was two outs away from being just the second team in North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament history to win four games in the loser’s bracket, but Hiram rallied for five runs in the seventh of game seven and claimed the tourney title with a 5-2 win over DePauw. Top-seeded DePauw dropped to 34-9, while the Terriers improved to 24-14.

Hiram earned the NCAC’s automatic qualification into the NCAA Division III Championship, while the Tigers were selected from the at-large pool to participate in the tournament. DePauw was chosen as a regional host and will face Berry in the opening round. The Terriers were placed in the DePauw regional and will face Piedmont in the opening round.

In the first game of the day, DePauw blanked Wooster in an elimination game as Cami Henry tossed a six-hit shutout and struck out eight in improving to 25-6.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first as Jade Mejia Wick’s bunt single scored Grace Smith. Drew Bratcher’s third-inning grounder brought home Goose Moore before Emily Timberman’s single scored Paige Price.

Smith’s sacrifice fly drove in Kate Geary in the fourth before Bratcher doubled in Mejia Wick in the fifth for the final run of the game.

Mejia Wick led DePauw with two of its eight hits with Wooster’s Gabby Lakes totaling two of the Fighting Scots’ six hits. Rachael Dudziak dropped to 6-9 with the loss as Wooster finished at 18-23.

DePauw jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first in the first game against Hiram as Mejia Wick’s double scored Smith and Timberman’s base hit brought home Mejia Wick.

Hiram grabbed a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first as Abriana Schwartz led off with a single and Kylie Perez walked before Giselle Bahena homered to center.

The Tigers came right back in the second when Kelsey Bernhard led off with a double, moved to third on Smith’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Mejia Wick’s bunt single to even the score at 3-3.

DePauw loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but a strikeout and foul out ended the threat.

Hiram’s Natalie Mallas led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and moved to third on Melissa Galindo’s sacrifice bunt. Schwartz then attempted a squeeze bunt but popped it up to a diving Smith at short who then ran to third to double up Mallas before she could get back to the bag.

Bratcher led off the eighth with a walk, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on Bernhard’s sacrifice bunt before Smith homered to right center to make it 5-3.

Henry retired the Terriers in order to pick up the win in relief and improve to 26-6. She truck out eight and broke the DePauw single-season strikeout mark of 260 by Megan Soultz in 2008. Darian Kanno slipped to 10-6.

Mejia Wick had three of DePauw’s 10 hits, while Smith and Bernhard each had two. Four different Terriers collected one hit apiece.

The teams met one last time in the Tigers’ third game of the day and played four scoreless innings before DePauw broke through with two in the fifth. Bratcher led off the inning by being hit by a pitch before pinch-runner Macey Cox was forced at second when Madi Lockridge reached on a fielder’s choice. Geary walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Bernhard reached on a fielder’s choice grounder as Lockridge was thrown out at the plate, but Smith then followed with a single to center scoring Bernhard and Geary.

Schwartz drew a one-out walk in the seventh and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Kylie Perez walked, Bahena followed with a double to center that scored Schwartz. Kanno was intentionally walked and Angel Santellan singled home Perez to even the score.

Leah Valdez was hit by a pitch which allowed Bahena to score and Mallas drew a bases loaded walk to score Kanno. Jeskari Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Santellan.

DePauw put two runners on base with no outs, but Kanno relieved Rodriguez in the circle and retired the final three DePauw batters to preserve the Terriers’ win.

Smith and Katie Mathies each had one hit for DePauw with Bahena and Valdez each totaling two of Hiram’s seven hits.

Annika Garwood dropped to 2-1 on the season, while Rodriguez improved to 10-6 and Kanno notched her second save.

Saturday, sfter dropping a 7-6 contest against Wooster in its opening game of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, DePauw rebounded to defeat Denison by an 11-2 count in six innings in an elimination game.

In the opening game against Wooster, the Fighting Scots took a 1-0 lead in the first when Molly Likins hit a two-out, solo homer to left center. That lead was short-lived as DePauw scored five in the bottom half of the inning. Smith walked before Moore and Mejia Wick each singled to load the bases. Price’s single down the right field line brought home two before Bratcher plated Mejia Wick with a base hit. Timberman’s single scored Price and pinch-runner Abby Pyburn later came home on a wild pitch.

DePauw made it 6-1 in the third as Price led off with a double and pinch-runner Macey Cox moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Bratcher’s ground out.

Wooster evened the score in the fourth as Stephanie Griffin-Sanchez led off with a single off of reliever Garwood and scored on Likins’ double. Katie Agatucci drew a walk and Kaydee Clark singled to load the bases. Kandra Butcher replaced Garwood in the circle and Gabby Lakes reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Likins at the plate. Destany Blake reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed Agatucci to score. Anna Norby was hit by a pitch that scored Clark. Starter Cami Henry came back in to pitch and struck out Sarah Lodge, but Wooster’s Brooke Swain drove in two with a double to even the score.

DePauw’s best chance to break the tie came in the fifth when Katerina Kilgore doubled with one out, but was called out at the plate after Timberman singled to left.

Henry retired nine straight before Griffin-Sanchez homered with two outs in the top of the seventh. Smith led off the DePauw seventh with a single and eventually advanced to third, but was left there as the game ended.

Moore, Price and Timberman each had two of DePauw’s 12 hits, while Griffin-Sanchez and Likins each had two of the Fighting Scots’ six hits.

Dudziak picked up the win in relief to improve to 6-8, while Henry dropped to 23-6.

Denison took a 1-0 lead in the first as Claire Powell walked before Maggie Ballentine and Jessica Hopkins singled to load the bases. Jacqui Abogado was hit by a pitch that brought home Powell.

Just like in the earlier game, DePauw scored five in the first. Smith and Moore walked and each advanced on a double steal. Mejia Wick reached on an infield error and took second with Smith scoring. Price then singled home Moore and Mejia Wick and Bratcher followed with a two-run homer to make it 5-1.

Mejia Wick doubled with two outs in the second and scored when Price reached on an error.

Hopkins hit a solo homer in the third to cut the DePauw lead to 6-2, but Bernhard scored on Mejia Wick’s grounder and Smith came home when Price doubled.

The Tigers wrapped it up in the sixth as Moore singled and moved to second on an error before scoring on Mejia Wick’s single. Price then followed with a two-run homer to left-center to end the contest with the run-rule.

Price led DePauw with three of its 11 hits and drove in six. Mejia Wick and Katie Mathies each added two hits. Hopkins had three of Denison’s five hits.

Henry improved to 24-6, while Sophia Parpala dropped to 8-4.