While making its first national appearance since 2014, the University of Redlands softball team left it all on Taylor Field in a 1-6 loss to eighth-ranked East Texas Baptist University at the Marshall Regional of the NCAA Division III Championships on Saturday morning.
The Bulldogs denied ETBU's early scoring opportunities with their flawless defense, which supported senior pitcher Danielle Stallings' (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) efforts. In the bottom of the second, ETBU loaded the bases but sophomore third baseman Madison Alves' (Kingsburg, CA) quality play at third allowed Redlands to escape the frame unscathed.
However, ETBU managed one run in the top of the fourth inning on a fielder's choice that followed a pair of base hits and a stolen base. With the bases loaded later in the frame, first-year pitcher Ali Borden (Santa Barbara, CA) lifted Stallings and immediately produced the rally-ending out.
Redlands found a way to even the score in the bottom of the sixth inning, as junior shortstop Natalie Horton (Palmdale, CA) reached on a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Following senior left fielder Tsianina Flores' (Corona, CA) walk, ETBU called upon the bullpen for a new pitcher, but first-year second baseman Collette Allen (Sierra Madre, CA) was unfazed at the plate. She connected on a 3-2 pitch for a bouncing grounder up the middle that allowed Horton to score the tying run.
But the tie was short-lived, as ETBU quickly responded in the top of the seventh to score five runs off three hits.
Although senior pinch hitter Desiree Moran (Bakersfield, CA) reached on a single through the right side in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs' hope of a comeback ended there.
Sophomore catcher Megan Watkins (Beaumont, CA) provided the Bulldogs' only other hit while also catching a solid game behind the plate.
Redlands completed the unusual but fruitful 2021 season with a 14-7 overall record.
Postgame interview with Head Coach Jose Ortega, Watkins, and Horton: https://youtu.be/Gb4Dymk3KU4