Bucs Beat ETBU to Force Winner-Take-All

Photo courtesy Erin Garcia, ETBU Athletics
Photo courtesy Erin Garcia, ETBU Athletics

MARSHALL, Texas – Madi Perez and Rheanne Lewis led 17th-ranked Whitworth to a 3-1 win over 10th-ranked East Texas Baptist on Saturday afternoon, forcing a final winner-take-all game on Sunday for the championship of the Marshall, Texas NCAA Division III Softball Regional.

Perez pitched a complete game to improve to 25-5 while Lewis went 3-3 at the plate with a home run to help the Pirates improve to 37-10 and earn their second win of the NCAA regional. 

Click here for the Whitworth post-game press conference.

The Tigers, hosts of the Marshall Regional, knocked out 6th-ranked Texas-Dallas with a 5-3 win in the early game on Saturday.  Whitworth and ETBU (37-9) will play in the final game of the regional at 1:00 pm (CDT) on Sunday.

Lewis gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead when she hit her second home run of the season with two outs in the top of the second inning.

The tide fully turned in Whitworth's favor after Perez worked out of a major jam in the bottom of the second.  The Tigers had the bases loaded with no one out after three straight infield singles.  But Perez got the next three outs without allowing a run to score, including a strikeout of Emily Hitt to end the inning.

The Pirates used that momentum to score two more runs in the top of the third.  Kinsey McNaught drew a leadoff walk and Myranda Ramirez put down a perfect bunt that went for a single.  Shannon Wessel's single up the middle drove in McNaught and Michelle Silva followed with an RBI single that scored Ramirez.  Whitworth had a chance to plate one more run when Perez singled with two outs and Silva at second base.  But ETBU leftfielder Jayme Perez made a perfect throw home to get Silva at the plate.

The Tigers finally broke through against Perez in the bottom of the fifth when Katy Hill led off the inning with a single and scored two outs later on a Lindsey Vasquez double.  But ETBU lost a chance to cut deeper into the lead when Vasquez made a base-running error on a Linzie Lewis infield single.  Vasquez rounded too far past third base and was thrown out trying to get back to the bag by Pirate catcher Allie Rude.

The Tigers were able to get one hit off of Perez in each of the last two innings, but could score no more runs.

Perez scattered eight hits and did not allow a walk as she tossed her 21st complete game of the season.  She extended her Whitworth single season records for victories and complete games while striking out three Tigers.

Rocki Tello (14-5) took the loss for ETBU after allowing three runs on four hits in two official innings.  McKayla Hendrix threw the final five innings.