KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three Rivers softball dropped both of its games on Saturday at the Region XVI Tournament. With the two losses, its second consecutive 40-win season came to an end.
The second-seeded Lady Raiders (40-9) faced top-seeded Crowder (52-3) in the winner's bracket final to start the day, losing 5-2. They fell 8-3 to third-seeded Jefferson College (40-13) in game two a few hours later.
Three Rivers looked like they had a shot against Crowder, which checked in at No. 10 in the final NJCAA Division I poll. The defense kept the Lady Raiders in the game early on, but four combined runs in the third and fourth inning put Three Rivers in a 5-2 hole it couldn't climb out of, and both teams went scoreless for the final three innings.
The Lady Raiders' two runs were scored via solo homers. Kryslyn Colvin sent one over the fence in left-center field in the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. Colvin's home run was her fourth of the season. Allison Pingel slugged one out in the fourth to trim Crowder's lead to 3-2.
The Roughriders' defense was otherwise stout, though. It forced Three Rivers to go three up, three down three different times, including the final two innings. Three Rivers was limited to four hits in the game. Gracie King and Katie Young recorded the two hits that didn't sail over the fence.
Abbey Gann started at pitcher and was credited with the loss. She threw 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits, five earned runs and two walks, striking out eight. Saje Kurpiela relieved Gann for the final 2 1/3 innings. She allowed two hits in her scoreless appearance, striking out three and surrendering a walk.
The offense looked to have been off to a fast start against Jefferson College, which Three Rivers beat on day one of the tournament. The Lady Raiders scored three runs in the first inning before allowing eight unanswered runs.
Three Rivers continued to get runners on base but six were left in scoring position. The defense had a shutout effort going through four innings, but Jefferson scored all eight of its runs over the final three innings to complete the comeback and keep its season alive.
Kirstien Loman and Jenny Morey both led the way offensively with two hits. Gann again got a start and pitched 4 1/3 innings. She allowed six hits, two earned runs and two walks. She struck out four. Kurpiela pitched 2 2/3 innings and was charged with the loss. She allowed five hits, six runs — two earned — struck out five and walked a pair.
With the loss, eight sophomores who led the team to back-to-back 40-win seasons and its first ever trip to the NJCAA World Series end their careers with the program. Pingel ends her career as the program's career home runs leader with 28. Kristyn Carpenter will go down as the career leader in runs scored with 125. Pingel, King and Carpenter each finish as the top three leaders in RBIs with 124, 112 and 110, respectively.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic