UPLAND, Ind. - For the first time in program history, the HU softball team punched their ticket to the NAIA Softball National Championship with a pair of wins, an 8-4 victory over 7th-seeded Indiana Wesleyan followed by a 6-2 decision over 2nd-seeded Bethel, Wednesday night at Taylor University’s Gudakunst Field.
With these two wins, the Foresters catapult into the championship game against Taylor tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. The league receives two automatic bids and since the Trojans earned the first bid by winning the regular season and then advancing to the championship game, the Foresters earn the berth by either winning the tournament championship or finishing as runner-up.
Nationals is slated for May 12-14 with the pairings for the 40-team opening round tournament to be announced at 7:00 p.m. CDT on May 6.
After knocking Marian out of the tourney earlier in the day, the Foresters had a several hour break before facing the Wildcats for the fifth time this season. HU dominated IWU right from the start by exploding for six runs in their opening at-bats on the way to notching their fourth win over their neighbors to the southwest.
HU sent 11 batters to the plate in the first frame where they hammered out eight hits with Katie Knous, Cristin Carter, Natalie McGuire and Annie Weaver each singling in at least one run.
It proved to be more than enough for the win as IWU posted two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth but they would get no closer as Huntington piled on two insurance runs after that to secure the win.
Knous posted a pair of hits, RBI and runs scored with her second score coming in the fifth on an error. Bess Fiechter drove in her team’s final run of the contest with a single up the middle in the sixth to finish with two hits and an RBI. Three other Foresters in Annie Weaver, Katie DePew and Kaitlyn Troyer also registered a pair of hits.
Marcie McDougle earned the complete-game win, scattering nine hits, four runs and two walks while striking out two.
Less than 24 hours after getting beat by Bethel 8-7, the Foresters went toe-to-toe with the Pilots again, this time with a much better outcome when it really mattered.
Emily Puterbaugh (10-7) had another sensational outing on the mound to pick up her second complete-game victory of the day, and third win in less than 48 hours. The sophomore hurler allowed just seven hits, two runs and one walk while fanning ten of the 29 batters she faced.
Weaver picked a perfect time to log her first collegiate dinger, a two-run shot over the center field fence, in the bottom of the third to jumpstart her team’s offense.
Fast forward to the fifth where the Pilots got one back in the top of the inning but a determined Forester squad quickly squelched any momentum Bethel had built by plating three runs in their half of frame to distance themselves 5-1.
After Troyer and Weaver started the rally with a double to right center and walk respectively, DePew drove in Troyer and eventually touched home on a Fiechter sacrifice fly but not before Weaver was able to scamper home on a wild pitch during Fiechter’s at-bat.
Both teams scored again in the sixth with HU’s by way of an Emily O’Leary single. Bethel threatened again in the seventh by loading up the bases with two outs but it seemed only fitting that on her birthday, Puterbaugh would work the final out to secure the win.
Hot bats continued for Weaver and Troyer as each finished with a pair of hits and scored twice. O’Leary also logged two hits.
The Foresters improve to 30-20, the most wins the program has experienced with Coach Gower at the helm.
For a link to view live stats during tomorrow’s game, click here