The Gustavus softball team lost its opening game in the NCAA Decorah Regional to host Luther 2-1 in eight innings. The game was close throughout as the game was tied 0-0 through five-and-one-half innings. Luther took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, but the Gusties tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the seventh. The Norse won the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when Erin Michael scored on Tami Magner’s bases loaded single. Joyce DeWitz pitched the entire game for Gustavus and limited Luther to six hits, but suffered her seventh loss of the season. The Gusties will now face UW-Stevens Point which dropped to the elimination round with a 6-2 loss to St. Thomas on Thursday afternoon.
The Gusties opened the game with hits in each of the first two innings and advanced runners to second base each time, however Coach Jeff Annis’ squad could not pick up the key hit to score the all-important first run. Both teams put together serious scoring opportunities in the fifth inning. Gustavus put runners on first and second with one out but could not push a runner across the plate. Luther put runners on second and third base with one out but was unable to score.
In the top of the sixth, Gustavus loaded the bases with one out, but Emily Klein ripped a shot towards right field that was caught by the second baseman and then Abby Bernstein flied out to right field ending the rally. The Norse took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Kim Hess singled and scored when senior Lisa Huinker ripped a triple over the head of Gustie centerfielder Klein.
Gustavus answered the Norse’s challenge by scoring a run in the top of the seventh. Alison Haase walked with one out and then Julie Mahre singled with two outs to put runners at first and second base. Luther chose to intentionally walk Rachael Click to load the bases and then first year rightfielder Andrea Brown hit a clutch single to center field scoring Haase from third base with the tying run.
The Gusties did not allow Luther to score in the bottom of the seventh inning which forced the game into extra innings. Gustavus was put down in order by Luther pitcher Kim Lambert. In the bottom of the eighth, the Norse loaded the bases with a Gustie error, a single by Kim Hess, and a walk to Huinker. The Gusties brought the infield and outfield in to try and shut the Norse down, but Tami Magner hit a bloop single to left field that dropped in front of Erin Ge and scored Erin Michael with the winning run.
Gustavus will look to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament with an elimination game against UW-Stevens Point on Friday at noon in Decorah. With a win, the Gusties could break the school record for victories in a season which was set last year and tied again this year.