No. 5 seed Rogers State softball (57-10) is one win away from a National Championship after walking off No. 8 seed Cal State Dominguez Hills (45-23) in a wild 6-5 win in the first game of the NCAA Division II Softball Championship Series on Memorial Day.
“First of all, I’m very excited about what we just did,” said Head Coach Andrea Vaughan. “I think it just speaks to our offense. I told the team in the locker room that they have developed this identity of being fighters. They don’t give in, they don’t back down and they are on this relentless pursuit. They are going after what we came here for, and we saw that today. You almost can’t put it into words other than to say what a crazy game this is. This is survival of the fittest and survival of the toughest; who is the gutsiest. At this stage, everyone is so good, and it comes down to who is going to be grittier, be tough and get the job done. That’s what they did today. I am super proud of the whole team.”
After what looked to be a pitcher’s duel with both starters working the first two innings without allowing a run, the Toros jumped on the board with an early 1-0 lead after a solo home run in the top of the third.
CSUDH continued to stay hot as they led off the fourth inning with an infield single. An error by the shortstop put two runners on with a sacrifice bunt moving them into scoring position. An error by the third baseman loaded the bases with one out. A two RBI single up the middle extended the lead to 3-0. A two RBI double to left center later in the inning pushed the advantage out to 5-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Hillcats refused to stay down as Abbey Rogers earned a leadoff walk. Bridgett Morales launched a two-run blast to straightaway center to cut the deficit to 5-2. Makayla Bowman followed that up with a single to left. Jaylan Gibson got in on the home run fun as she uncorked on a two-run shot of her own to left to make it a one-run game at 5-4.
RSU didn’t let up in the bottom of the fifth as Nicole Price earned a leadoff walk. Rogers singled to center to put the tying run at second. Later in the frame, Bowman scorched a RBI single down the left field line to bring in Price to knot the game at 5-5.
With things still tied at 5-5 going into the bottom of the seventh, Callie Yellin came up to bat after replacing Rogers as a pinch runner in the fifth and staying in to catch. On a 1-0 count, Yellin unloaded on a pitch to walk the game off with a solo shot over the right center field wall.
M’Kayla Hillman (16-6) earned the win after throwing 3.1 innings out of the bullpen and only allowing two hits with two strikeouts. Alyssa Olague (23-14) took the loss.
The two teams will face off in game two of the series on Tuesday, May 31, at 12 p.m. CT with the Hillcats just one win away from a National Championship. Fans can watch the game on NCAA.com or listen live on KRSC 91.3 FM or RSURadio.com with Josh Haley on the call.