ALMA, Mich.-- The Trine softball team picked up two wins to to force a winner-take-all game in the MIAA Championship, but fell to Alma in the title game Friday afternoon at Scots Park.
The Thunder entered the day needing three wins to claim a fourth-consecutive MIAA Tournament title and started things off right with an 8-0 victory over Hope in five innings to reach the championship round. Trine extended the championship round to a second game with a 3-1 victory over Alma. The Scots got the better end of the pitcher's duel in the championship finale, downing the Thunder 1-0 to claim the tournament crown and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
Shut down pitching performances by Bre Cooper (Beech Grove, Ind. / Beech Grove) and Justine Robles (Long Beach, Calif. / Lakewood) led the efforts of the Thunder. The duo combined to allow just two earned runs on 13 hits in 16.2 innings of work. Robles became the fourth pitcher in team history to reach 400 career strikeouts with a six-strikeout effort in the victory over Alma.
The championship game was a pitcher's duel, as Cooper and Scots' pitcher Katie McClure traded zeroes for much of the afternoon. McClure earned the victory with the complete game, three-hit shutout. She struck out two.
The Scots pushed across the only run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back singles by Anna Couture and Kayla Merice extended the inning, before Mary Brooks' RBI-single scored Couture to provide the game's only run.
Cooper was tagged with her first career loss despite allowing just three hits and one walk in the game. The senior is 9-1 on the season and owns a career record of 12-1.
The Thunder used a three-run sixth to back another strong pitching performance from Robles in the 3-1 victory to force the winner-take-all championship game.
A Kayla Merice RBI-single provided the only run of the contest through the first five-and-a-half frames before Trine was able to rally. A pair of walks and a Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio / Edison) single loaded the bases with nobody out. Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) came through with a clutch hit, singling through the middle to tie the score. McCue notched four hits and three RBIs on the day.
After a fielder's choice and a flyout, Erica Robles (Long Beach, Calif. / Lakewood) provided the go-ahead two-out hit, singling up the middle to score two and give Trine the final 3-1 margin.
Robles outdueled MIAA Most Valuable Pitcher Morgan Stratton to get the win. Robles allowed an earned run on six hits, walked two and fanned six. Robles' 117-pitch effort improved the senior's record to 13-7 on the season. She has now struck out 405 batters in her collegiate career.
The Thunder pounded out 12 hits in the opening elimination-gmae victory over Hope. Kendra Marshall (Leesburg, Ind. / Warsaw), Rachell Noble (Indianapolis, Ind. / Decatur Central) and McCue all knocked in two runs in the victory. Fox added another RBI.
Noble's effort included a solo homer, her third home run of the season. Noble had another solid day offensively with the home run, two RBIs, three hits and three walks in today's action.
Cooper fired five innings of shutout ball to get the win in game one. The senior allowed four hits.
Trine will await a selection to the NCAA Regionals. The tournament field will be announced Monday, May 9 at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the selection show live at THIS LINK.