No. 3 Seeded Softball Closes Season With Heartbreaking Loss To Top-Seed Michigan In NCAA Regional Tournament Championship
May 24, 2004
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A big fourth inning helped top-seeded University of Michigan rally for a 5-2 victory against No. 3 seed Oregon State University in Monday's NCAA Regional Tournament championship game, sending the Wolverines to the Women's College World Series.
The Beavers (44-28) battled rain, lightning, tornado warnings, and a raucous Michigan crowd to work their way into the championship game, falling just short of an inaugural trip to the Women's College World Series. OSU's 44 victories on the season match the second-most wins in program history (2001).
Oregon State held its first-ever lead in the NCAA Regional Tournament's championship game and had all of the momentum before Sunday's contest was postponed due to severe thunderstorms.
On Sunday, Oregon State took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning behind Kelly Petersen's two-out home run over the center field fence. Vanessa Iapala followed with a single up the middle, but following a 2-hour and 15-minute rain/lightning delay, the game was postponed until Monday morning. OSU came out of the gates with back-to-back hits from Lisa Allen and Sherina Galvan, until Michigan reliever Nicole Motycka entered the game in relief and recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
The Beavers worked their way out of a no-out bases loaded jam in the bottom half of the first inning as starter Monica Hoffman (22-18) tallied a pair of strikeouts and forced Jennifer Olds to pop-out to third base ending the inning.
Oregon State had to battle defensively again in the bottom of the second after the Wolverines led-off the frame with a double, but the Beavers held strong and maintained their 1-0 lead.
A two-out hit batter proved costly for OSU in the bottom of the third inning as Grace Leutele's two-out double to center field plated Jessica Merchant to knot the score at 1-1.
The Wolverines broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs on five hits in the inning. Michigan took advantage of a double and triple in the frame, to make the score 5-1.
OSU continued to fight in the seventh, as Ingrid Lochelt earned a single and pinch runner Carrie Syphers came around to score when Adrienne Alo battled for her second hit of the day with a two-out RBI single down the left field line. That was all the Beavers would get however, as Motycka (22-4) forced a groundout to end the game and send UM to the Series.
Hoffman finished the contest with seven strikeouts for a school record 287 on the season. In the tournament, the senior hurler amassed 40 strikeouts while allowing only one walk in 39.2 innings of work. She earned NCAA All-Regional Tournament accolades for the second consecutive year and finished her career with more postseason victories than any pitcher in OSU history - earning nine wins and recording 80 strikeouts in 85.1 innings of action.
'This has been an awesome experience,' said Hoffman. 'I wouldn't want to go out in any other way - we went down swinging.'
Petersen and Alo also earned NCAA All-Regional Tournament honors for their performance in OSU's six games. Petersen led the Beavers with a .357 batting average and seven RBI, while Alo hit .300 with four runs scored and four RBI.
Freshman outfielder Mia Longfellow held a .333 batting average with a pair of sacrifices in four games, but was forced to miss the final two games after suffering a contusion when she fouled a ball off her left foot against University of Illinois-Chicago.
No. 20 Oregon State - 100 000 1 - 2 8 3
No. 6 Michigan - 001 400 x - 5 8 0
Hoffman and Allen (OSU), Ritter, Motyka (1) and Schock (UM). WP - Motyka (22-4). LP - Hoffman (22-18). HR - Petersen (OSU). 3B - Doe (UM). 2B - Churchill (UM), Leutele (UM), Betley (UM), Doe (UM).