The Hope College softball team squeezed out every out possible to make its final appearance of the season at Wolters Stadium a championship-winning one.
Case Western Reserve University denied the Flying Dutch's valiant effort to rally for a Super Regional title on Saturday. The Spartans won the third and decisive game of the series 4-1 and advanced to this week's NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Hope, ranked No. 17 in the nation, finished with a 34-12 record — the most wins in school history.
"Unbelievably proud of this group and the fight they had in them all the way to the end," head coach Mary VandeHoef said. "It hurts to come up short so close to the goal, but I can't say enough about this team and this group of seniors."
The Flying Dutch tried to win a third consecutive tournament with a pair of wins on the final day. They evened the series at one game apiece with a 3-1 victory in Saturday's opener.
Hope grabbed the lead with a three-run third inning.
Second baseman Sierra Mutschler of Wayland, Michigan (Wayland) followed with a double to right to knock in Reitsma.
That was more enough for starting pitcher Sydney Jones of South Lyon, Michigan (East). The righthander went the distance for her school-record 21st win - allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six.
Hope kept the second game of the day scoreless until the top of the fourth. Case Western Reserve (37-10) led off the inning with double, then seven more batters to the plate en route to a 4-0 lead. The Spartans capitalized on two hits, two Flying Dutch errors and five stolen bases to seize command.
Winning pitcher Ilissa Hamilton did not allow a run to Hope until a leadoff homer from centerfield Noelle Jackson of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Grand Blanc) in the seventh.
Hamilton yielded six hits, including two apiece to Jackson, Reitsma and first baseman Shay Pinhey of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer).
Hope Postgame Interview