Amidst damp conditions in Marshall, Texas, the University of Redlands softball team opened the 2021 NCAA Division III Championships with a heartbreaking 4-5 loss to fifth-ranked Birmingham-Southern College (AL) on Friday afternoon. After scoring four in the seventh inning, the Bulldogs sat in front for the first time all game. However, the Panthers mustered enough offense to stymie Redlands' comeback and snag a one-run decision.
The teams battled through a pitchers' duel, with neither squad gaining much offense early in the game. For Redlands, senior pitcher Danielle Stallings (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) did not allow a hit in the first, third, or sixth inning.
Although BSC pushed one across in the bottom of the second, Redlands recorded a hit in each of the subsequent four innings but left the runners stranded.
The Panthers managed to gain what was thought to be an insurance run on a double and a well-placed infield hit in the fifth frame to make it 2-0.
However, Redlands' patience and persistence finally paid off, as four consecutive batters reached on walks to score a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Two of those base-on-balls came off a new Panther in the circle. With the bases loaded and two outs, first-year designated player Rylie Barber (San Ramon, CA) took a hit-by-pitch to score the tying run. Sophomore centerfielder Kalyn Kershner (Ewa Beach, HI) followed that up with a single to left field that plated junior shortstop Natalie Horton (Palmdale, CA) and sophomore third baseman Madison Alves (Kingsburg, CA) for the Maroon and Gray's 4-2 lead.
Unfortunately, Redlands' momentum was gone as quickly as it had arrived, as BSC answered in the bottom of the seventh in walk-off fashion. Three hits and two walks into the stanza, the Bulldogs fell short by a score of 4-5 in their first NCAA game of the double-elimination tournament.
Senior left fielder Tsianina Flores (Corona, CA), sophomore first baseman Madeline Gonzalez (Colton, CA), Alves, Barber, and Kershner each recorded a hit for the Maroon and Gray, while Horton, Barber, and Kershner accounted for the RBI.
Stallings took the loss after 6.1 innings pitched with two strikeouts.
With the win, Birmingham-Southern moves on to the 1:30 p.m. game (11:30 a.m. PDT) against Salisbury University (PA), who advanced with a no-contest from Ohio Northern University.
Redlands (14-6) now faces top-seeded East Texas Baptist University (31-5) in Saturday's 11 a.m. game (9 a.m. PDT). ETBU defeated Eastern Nazarene, 10-2, in five innings earlier today.
Postgame Interview with Coach Ortega, Kershner, and Stallings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGJLmxe20ig
WATCH vs. ETBU: https://goetbutigers.com/watch/?Archive=691&type=Live
LIVE STATS vs. ETBU: https://goetbutigers.com/sidearmstats/softball/summary