Cal eliminated from NCAA softball tournament
Kim Murl tossed a two-hit shutout as fourth-seeded West Chester shut out top-seeded California University, 2-0, Sunday and eliminated the Vulcans from the NCAA Division II softball playoffs at Lilley Field.
California ended the season with a 37-7 record after winning its first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship since 2000 and completing its first undefeated conference schedule since 1998.
West Chester will face West Virginia Wesleyan next weekend in the NCAA Super Regionals, which is a best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Championships in Salem, Va.
To reach the championship series against West Chester, Cal defeated Bloomsburg, 5-2, as senior designated hitter Stephani Ellis hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning.
Cal lost two games to West Chester in this subregional, falling 6-3 Saturday.
On Sunday, Erin Quense smashed two solo home runs for the only scores of the game. Quense hit her first home run down the left field line in the top of the third inning and sent one over the center field fence in the fifth. Quense had two of the five hits by West Chester.
Cal, meanwhile, could only manage two hits, a single by Breanna Morris and one by Natalya Smarra.
Murl had one strikeout and two walks in her 84-pitch effort. She faced three batters over the minimum.
Cal’s Natalie Wideman, the PSAC West Athlete of the Year, was held without a hit for the first time since April 12 and finished her career with 200 hits, becoming the first Vulcans player with at least 200 hits since Jillian Russell (2009-12).
The Vulcans have now been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by the Golden Rams in each of the last two years, both at Lilley Field.
Against Bloomsburg (28-19), Cal rallied from a 2-1 deficit by scoring a run in the sixth on a Shelby Heyd home run. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Lindsay Reicoff hit a one-out single to center field, and moved to second on a single to center by Breanna Morris. One out later, Ellis hit a 3-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for the game-winner.
Alex Sagl allowed two runs in seven innings, struck out seven and did not walk a batter in moving to 25-3 for the seasons.
Taylor Parker gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings and threw 125 pitches.
A double by senior second baseman Shelby Lia drove in Wideman to provide Cal with a 1-0 lead in the third. In the fourth, Hannah Moir doubled in Sarah Bertoni to tie the game, 1-1. Bloomsburg made it 2-1 in the fifth when Mandi Baer singled in Kayla McHale, who doubled.