WHITEWATER, Wis. -- The Trine softball team defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater 6-3 to advance to the championship round of the NCAA Division III Whitewater Regional.
A five-run third inning powered the offensive effort. Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio / Edison) hit a towering three-run blast to cap the inning after the Thunder took advantage of a couple Warhaw errors. Nicole Ferraro (North Royalton, Ohio / Holy Name) also homered for Trine. Danielle Ray (Hamilton, Ohio / Badin) earned the win with the complete-game effort in the circle. The Thunder advanced to tomorrow's championship round with the win and improved to 34-8 overall.
The game was scoreless into the top of the third before Ferraro worked a leadoff walk to jumpstart the rally. Back-to-back sacrifice bunts by Emily White (Fortville, Ind. / Mount Vernon) and Makenna Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) led to two Warhawk errors. Ferraro raced around to score from second on White's sacrifice bunt, as the throw to third was wide and down the line. Hartline's sac bunt scored Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio / Westlake) from third.
That set the stage for Fox, who sat on an 0-1 offspeed pitch and crushed a no-doubt three-run homer to left. The homer was Fox's 16th of the season, moving her into a three-way tie for second in a season in program history. Fox previously tied that mark during her freshman season in 2015. The junior now has 47 RBIs on the season, tied for seventh in team history.
The Warhawks rallied back in the fourth and fifth innings to cut their deficit to two. Amy Ricci hit a solo homer to get UWW on the board in the bottom of the fourth. UWW's Kelly Berglund drew a one out walk in the fifth, before Mallory Klotz hit a two-run homer to cut the score to 5-3.
Wisconsin-Whitewater threatened to score more, but Michaela Hartline (Niles, Mich. / Brandywine) tracked down a fly ball that looked ticketed for extra-bases with a running catch at the fence in right-center. Hartline nearly doubled the runner off first with the throw. Ray then induced a groundout to end the inning.
Ferraro's homer in the top of the sixth gave Trine more breathing room. The freshman connected on her third homer of the year to dead center to make the score 6-3. Ferraro had a hit, a walk and two runs scored in her first NCAA postseason action. The Thunder have hit six home runs in the Regional, five of which have come from the freshman class.
Carly Bachna (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria) also flashed the leather for a key defensive play in the sixth. With a runner on first, the shorstop tracked down a soft liner down the left field line with a diving catch behind third base.
Ray earned her second consecutive Regionals victory with another complete game effort. The freshman threw 110 pitches, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits, walked two and struck out three. She improved to 18-3 on the season. Her 18 wins are tied for seventh in a season in the team record books.
Trine will face the winner of this afternoon's elimination round tomorrow at noon CDT. Wisconsin-Whitewater, Greenville and Hope are all vying for a bid to the championship round. The Thunder would need to win once to claim the team's second consecutive Regional title.