SALEM, Virginia – The top ranked Lady Buffs of West Texas A&M used a four RBI performance by junior Allie Cranfill along with a complete game effort in the circle by Rita Hokianga to claim the program’s first ever victory in the NCAA Division II College World Series in an 8-1 win over the #20 Pioneers of LIU-Post on Thursday afternoon at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia. WT moved to 57-7 on the season while the Pioneers fall to 50-10.
“Really impressed with how we created runs all game long, Tyler scoring on a stolen base and overthrow in the first was key to getting the energy and offense going for sure” said WT head coach Kevin Blaskowski “We’ve used the walk as a catalyst all season and I thought we did that well today, Allie came up with a big bases loaded hit in the fourth and Rita was strong in the circle. Now it’s time to rest a little and get ready for a very good Armstrong Atlantic team tomorrow afternoon.”
The Lady Buffs used their team speed on the basepaths to take the early lead as Tyler Wilkinson walked and stole second base as an errant Pioneers throw into center field allowed the junior to race to and round third base with an LIU-Post bobble in the infield scored Wilkinson for the early 1-0 lead with one out. Renee Erwin registered a walk followed by a Kaisha Dacosin RBI double to the right center field gap to give WT the early 2-0 lead.
WT’s Rita Hokianga continued to roll in the circle as the junior left hander allowed her first hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning with two outs on a Alexis Gonzalez double to the left center field gap before Erwin hustled to a high popup behind second base for the third out of the inning as WT continued to lead 2-0.
The Lady Buffs broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning as they plated five runs on two hits with two Pioneer errors, the inning was highlighted by an Allie Cranfill three run double to right field with the bases loaded and two outs to score Erwin, Dacosin and Jessica Sipe as WT ran their lead to 7-0 after four complete innings of play.
The Pioneers had their first real chance to score in the top of the fifth inning as Paige Swantek singled to right center field with one out followed by a Kayla McCoy walk to put runners on first and second before Hokianga forced a popup to Alyssa Lemos at shortstop for the second out followed by a Brittany Gehle grab in foul territory behind first base to end the threat with WT leading 7-0 headed to the bottom of the fifth.
LIU-Post threatened again in the top of the sixth inning as Catherine Havens singled back to the circle to leadoff the inning followed by a wild pitch to move into scoring position, Angelo Carmine singled to left field to put runners on the corners with no outs before Hokianga registered her sixth strikeout of the game to tally the first out. Lemos snagged a line drive at shortstop for the second out of the frame followed by a single up the middle by Aly Dzierzynski to score the Pioneers first run followed by a Swantek single up the middle to load the bases with two outs, Sipe ended the inning as she fielded a slow grounder and fired across the diamond as WT took the 7-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Lady Buffs added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as Cranfill drove in her fourth RBI of the game with one out and runner on second and third as the junior infielder layed down a bunt to score Erwin from third base before an infield popup ended the inning with WT headed to the seventh inning with the 8-1 lead.
The top of the seventh inning saw Hokianga force a groundout to Sipe at the hot corner followed by a Pioneers infield single to put a runner on first with one out, the Lady Buffs committed their first error of the game with a misplayed ground ball at second base before Lemos registered the second out with an infield fly to short followed by a flyout to Wilkinson in center field to pick up the 8-1 victory. The junior left hander moved to 26-3 on the season, giving up one run on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in the complete game victory.
The Lady Buffs now advance to the winner’s side of the bracket as they are set to take on the #19 Pirates of Armstrong Atlantic State University who topped West Chester (5-1) earlier in the afternoon. First pitch from the Moyer Sports Complex is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. CT and there will be a free webstream and live stats provided by the NCAA, for links please visit the softball schedule page at GoBuffsGo.com.
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