Two home runs and shutout pitching propelled the Hope College softball team past seventh-ranked and host Wisconsin-Whitewater 7-0 on Friday in the elimination round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Flying Dutch (27-14 overall) followed up a dramatic 6-5, walk-off win against Greenville, Illinois earlier in the afternoon by avenging a 4-1, first-round loss to Whitewater.
Hope advanced to its second regional final in three seasons under head coach Mary VandeHoef. The Flying Dutch will face a familiar foe, 22nd-ranked and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association rival Trine (34-8).
Hope must win the first game at noon Central to force a second game in the double-elimination tournament.
Trine eliminated Hope from the MIAA Tournament last week, but the Flying Dutch swept their regular-season doubleheader en route to a share of the MIAA title.
Junior Sydney Jones of South Lyon, Michigan (East HS) fired her school-record 11th shutout of the season against Whitewater (37-9) after hurling the final four outs against Greenville.
Jones (17-6) allowed only two hits and one walk as she lowered her ERA to 1.04. She struck out nine to extend their school-record total this season to 222.
Jones set the school record for wins in a single season, breaking a tie with Andrea Adams (2002), Kim Grotenhuis (2000), Lisa Larzalere (1996 and 1997), and Keri Roelefs (1995).
The Flying Dutch supported Jones with runs in each of the first four innings.
Second baseman Sierra Mutschler of Wayland, Michigan (Wayland) delivered a RBI single in the bottom of the first inning and a solo homer in the third inning. It was her 17th home run of her career, tying her for fourth all-time among Flying Dutch players.
Sophomore shortstop Shay Pinhey of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer) smacked a two-run double in the second.
Pinhey added a RBI double in the fourth, then came home on a two-run homer by junior catcher Hayley Reitsma of Grand Rapids, Michigan (GR Christian).
Reitsma's second homer of the day gave her five on the season, tying with Mutschler for the team lead.
Reitsma leads the Flying Dutch with 42 RBIs. She is tied with current assistant coach Kelli Duimstra for fourth place in a single season at Hope.
Watch post-game interview below.