Fort Wayne Wins First Summit League Softball Championship
FARGO, N.D. – Second-seeded Fort Wayne won its first Summit League Softball Championship in program history by defeating top-seeded North Dakota State, 7-4 in the second championship game on Saturday afternoon at the Ellig Sports Complex.
North Dakota State defeated Fort Wayne, 7-4, in the first championship game to force a second and final championship game, where the Mastodons ended up on top.
Fort Wayne (34-14) continues its season with the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, while North Dakota State, the league's regular-season champion, ends its season with a record of 33-16, the Bison seventh-straight season of 30 wins. The Mastodons await their NCAA Regional pairing as the tournament field will be revealed during the selection show on ESPNU, Sunday, May. 12, at 10 p.m. ET.
Championship Game 1: (1) North Dakota State 7, (2) Fort Wayne 4
In game one, neither team could get their offense going early as both were hitless in the first two innings.
NDSU's defense carried over its strong performance from Friday night's games as the Bison recorded their third double play of the championships in the bottom of the first inning. The double play marked NDSU's third in two games and third-straight in as many innings, going back to sixth and seventh innings against Kansas City.
North Dakota State struck first in the top of the third as Alyssa Reina homered over the left center fence to give the Bison a 1-0 lead. A batter later with two outs, Amanda Grable tallied her 10th long ball of the season over the right center fence, making it a 2-0 game.
The Fort Wayne offense also got started in the third inning, as Kayti Hanson singled to left center to record the Mastodons' first hit of the game. Alex Bousquet then reached on a NDSU error to put runners on first and second with one out but Fort Wayne was kept scoreless.
A five-run, five-hit fourth inning, extended the Bison's lead, which would eventually hold up and be enough for the victory. With runners on first and third, Brandi Enriquez singled to left field to drive home a run, making it a 3-0 game. Cheyenne Garcia then hit a bases-loaded single down the right field line to drive home the winning run and extend NDSU's lead to five, 5-0. A wild pitch put runners on second and third for Grable, who drove home the Bison's final two runs of the game on a single up the middle to put NDSU up 7-0.
The Mastodons answered back with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning as Dani Pugh led-off with a home run to left field, her seventh of the season, making it a 7-1 game.
Both teams were scoreless in the fifth and sixth.
Down by six runs, heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Fort Wayne mounted a comeback, scoring three runs on three hits but didn't have enough to overcome North Dakota State's lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Ashleigh Bouquet singled to center field to drive home a Mastodon run. Pugh then drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a 7-3 game. A North Dakota State wild pitch allowed another run to score, making it 7-4. NDSU's Krista Menke then entered the game in relief and retired the next two batters to end the game, giving the Bison the victory and forcing a second championship game.
NDSU's Whitney Johnson (23-8) recorded the win with three strikeouts, while giving up eight hits, four earned runs and three walks in 6.1 innings. Menke earned the save with a strikeout in 0.2 innings.
Fort Wayne's Miranda Kramer (23-8) took the loss allowing five earned runs and four hits with seven strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
The Bison had six different players record hits and were led by Grable going 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and a run scored.
Fort Wayne also had six players tally a hit as Alex Bousquet and Hanson each went 2-for-3 for the Mastodons with Bousquet adding a run scored.
Championship Game 2: (2) Fort Wayne 7, (1) North Dakota State 4
North Dakota State struck first again in the second championship game as Alyssa Reina and Cheyenne Garcia hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the first to give the Bison an early 2-0 lead.
Fort Wayne answered back in the top of third as Kayti Hanson led-off the Mastodons with a triple down the left field line. Alex Bousquet followed that up with a single to left field to put the Fort Wayne on the scoreboard and make it a one run game, 2-1. With one out and a runner on, Ashleigh Bousquet gave Fort Wayne its first lead of the game blasting a homer over the center field wall, her first of two long balls in game two, to give the Mastodons a 3-2 lead.
The Bison tied the game up once again in the bottom of the fourth scoring one run, on two hits and two Fort Wayne errors. Amanda Grable hit a lead-off single to left field and was then sacrificed over to second by Jenina Ortega. A single through the right side from Maritza Lopez-Portillo allowed Grable to score and tie the game up, 3-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bison regained the lead, 4-3 as a Fort Wayne error led to a NDSU run. With two outs, North Dakota State's Presley Glaser was hit by a pitch and then stole second. Reina then reached base on a drop-third strike, where a Fort Wayne error allowed Glaser to score.
Down by one run in the top of the sixth, the Mastodons rallied to reclaim the lead, scoring three runs on four hits. Three-straight singles to open the frame, tied the game up 4-4. Then with one out and bases loaded, Brittany Kachur drew a walk to give Fort Wayne a 5-4 lead. Alex Bousquet followed that up with a two-out single up the middle to extend the Mastodons' lead to 6-4.
Megan Flenniken and the Fort Wayne defense were able to retire the Bison in order in the bottom of the sixth to hold on to their two-run lead.
In the final frame, Fort Wayne's Ashleigh Bousquet added on an insurance run with a lead-off home run to center field, her second homer of the game, to give the Mastodons a 7-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, NDSU's Brandi Enriquez drew a two-out walk to keep the Bison alive but North Dakota State wasn't able to score, falling to the Mastodons, 7-4.
Fort Wayne's Flenniken (10-6) earned the victory with eight strikeouts, while giving up three hits, two earned runs and a walk. NDSU's Whitney Johnson (23-9) took the loss, allowing seven hits, five earned runs and two walks, with six strikeouts.
The Mastodons out hit the Bison 10-4. Fort Wayne had six different players record at least one hit and was led by Ashleigh Bousquet, the championship MVP, going a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored. Alex Bousquet also tallied three hits and went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Alex Bousquet, Fort Wayne
Ashleigh Bousquet, Fort Wayne - MVP
Lindsey Boyd, South Dakota
Brandi Enriquez, North Dakota State
Megan Flenniken, Fort Wayne
Deanna Friese, Kansas City
Cheyenne Garcia, North Dakota State
Chelsea Hartwig, Kansas City
Whitney Johnson, North Dakota State
Miranda Kramer, Fort Wayne
Audrey Mintari, Fort Wayne
Emily Ott, Kansas City
Alyssa Reina, North Dakota State
Kate Snow, South Dakota