VSN (admin) Published Wednesday, May 17, 2023 – 9:58 p.m
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Stymied for nine innings by Saint Xavier University ace Laila Summers, Oregon Tech turned to its trio of freshman starters to spark a 5-run third inning rally as the Lady Owls secured their fourth straight trip to the NAIA Softball World Series with a winner-take-all 5-2 victory in the opening round title game.
OIT (50-8) heads to next week’s 10-team event in Columbus, Ga., as the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of the Central Methodist (Mo.)-Baker (Kan.) matchup meet on May 25th at 1:00 PM (PDT)
“As I have said so many times, this team is just a great example of a team of ladies who really love each other,” said OIT head coach Greg Stewart. “They are so determined to push every time and they get even harder as a group when their backs are against the wall.”
The Owls’ school-record 28th home win of the season took longer than expected as Summers and the visiting Cougars (37-14) forced the second championship game by blanking Tech, 3-0, in today’s opener. The senior right-hander allowed just two base runners – a walk to Addison Kachnik and one on Nita Cook – retiring the last 14 batters in order.
SXU had 10 hits in the win – breaking a scoreless tie in the fifth on a 2-out RBI single by Sarah Bowen. The Illinois team added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to support Summers’ effort.
The trend continued in Game 2, as Bowen lined a 2-out first inning single to stake SXU to the early lead. Summers put Tech in order in the first two frames, but the three freshmen at the bottom of the order turned the tide.
Puakea Milbourne lined a single to right and Kachnik followed with a 2-strike single to right. Cook dropped a perfect bunt, hitting the goad to first to load the bases with no outs. Enter Zoe Allen, who hit a slow roller to third, with SXU third baseman Kaitlyn Wright flipping home to catcher Lindsey Morgan a little high. OIT pinch runner Maddie DeVerna collided with Wright, causing the ball to dislodge from the glove, allowing the senior to score the tying run.
“I was really proud of how the ladies made some good adjustments to the plate,” Stewart said. “The summer was good today. We focused on hitting the ball the other way in Game 2 and it was the key to our third inning rally.”
Kaila Mick delivered the go-ahead run with a slow roller to second but a wild throw to reach Mick at first and score Cook from second to extend the lead to 3-1. Maggie Buckholz lifted a sacrifice fly — her school-record eighth of the year — and Lexi Klum lined a run-scoring single to cap the 5-run outburst.
SXU got a run back in the fifth on an Abbie Carr RBI single and made it interesting in the seventh. Singles by Haley Matlock and Lyda Robinson brought the tying run to the plate. Kachnik made the defensive play of the day — hitting a Nicole Lovato liner and doubling Matlock from second base. After an Alexus Reese single, Tech starter Kacie Schmidt climbed high into the air to snare a Carr chopper, completing the game first victory.
Schmidt worked around eight hits to earn her 26th win of the season, with Allen and Milbourne each picking up two hits for the victors.
OIT advances to the 10-team NAIA Softball World Series for the fifth time (2015, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023) and its eighth all-time trip to the final site (1997, 2011, 2012). All Georgia games will be carried live on 104.3 and 960 Sports with Mike Safford on the call.
- Schmidt earned her 25th straight victory in the circle, participating Sarah Abramson and Taylor Schmidt as the only OIT pitchers to win 26 or more games in a season
- Buckholz broke Kennedy Jantzi’s school record for sacrifice flies in a season with the third inning fly ball … the senior picked up her 65th RBI on the game, the fifth OIT player with 65 or more RBI in a season
- The shutout thrown by Summers was the first against Tech this season (last shutout loss was a 3-0 setback to Science & Arts at the 2022 NAIA Softball World Series) … her 1-hitter was the first for an OIT opposing pitcher since 2015 (Cassie Jones of Auburn Montgomery)
- The win was the Lady Owls 50th of the season, tying the program record – their second straight 50-win campaign
- Tech enters the World Series with its highest seeding — as the 2021 team earned the No. 2 seed, the 2022 team earned the No. 4 seed, the 2015 team earned a No. 7 seed and the 2019 team earned the No. 10 seed.
- OIT and Science & Arts are the only returning teams to the World Series, while Cascade Conference rival Southern Oregon returns to the tournament after a one-year hiatus
Oregon Institute of Technology Saint Xavier University Softball Cascade Collegiate Conference Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Game Results