WINONA, MN (KWSN) - One week after Winona State dashed Augustana’s conference title hopes, the Viking exorcised some demons with a 2-1 victory over the Warriors to advance to the NCAA Central Region Championship. Augustana will face Winona State in the championship game tomorrow at 1 p.m. -- the Vikings will need to be beaten twice to be eliminated.
Carley Pickett her second straight win with a gutsy pitching performance and pushed her record to 18-6 and Augustana to 45-13. The southpaw tossed five shutout innings as she came on in the third and finished the game allowing four hits. After stymying the Vikings’ bats in the first of two Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title games, Winona State (47-8) ace Ashley Walker allowed Augustana to manufacture two runs and was dealt her fifth loss of the season.
A cynic’s view of the game might see a combined 18 runners left on base was the results of a lack of clutch hitting, but both pitchers were near flawless as it was a couple of unassuming bats producing Augustana’s runs and stellar fielding thwarting any Winona State scoring chances.
Jenelle Trautmann earned the start for the Vikings and avoided a first-inning scoring outburst by WSU when Erin Kempf robbed Morgan Lintz’s would-be homerun at the left-field wall. The Warriors still came away with a one-run lead after the first inning after two hits plated Brooke Piotrowksi.
Trautmann pitched a scoreless second inning before Pickett came in for a lefty-lefty matchup at the top of the Winona State order in the third inning and she continued her strong postseason with four more shutout frames.
The bottom of the Vikings’ order performed like anything but in the fourth inning. Lindsay Spanton, Emily Heinz, and Pickett opened the fourth with three straight singles and Jordan Schaffer tied the game with a single to centerfield. Two pitches later, Maddie Merriam gave the Vikings the lead with a hard shot to center that scored Heinz. Augustana’s top of the order wasn’t able to add on, but it was all the Vikings would need as Pickett continued to deal.
The Warriors appeared to have some two-out magic in the works in the fourth and fifth innings, but Pickett halted the WSU traffic on the basepaths to keep the Vikings ahead 2-1.
Pcikett’s greatest challenge came in the bottom of the seventh when Winona State’s top of the lineup was due up. Augustana’s lefthander quickly dispatched Piotrowski then gave up a single to increase the late-inning drama. Pickett then forced a groundout and forced Winona State’s cleanup hitter to lineout to the shortstop , securing the win for the Vikings.
Courtesy: Augustana College