Maryville College fell in the opening round of the NCAA Regional in heartbreaking fashion, as No. 19 Trine University used a two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Scots 4-3.
MC rallied to take the lead twice Friday's first round contest, eventually taking a 3-2 advantage in the top of the seventh inning. However, a two-out, two-RBI single through the right side by Lexi Clark allowed the Thunder to take the walk-off win by one, 4-3.
The Scots outhit the 19th-ranked squad, 6-5, including Taylor Campbell's team-leading ninth home run of the year.
"My team played hard today," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "I just got done talking to them, in the locker room, and I think that was one of the hardest-fought games we've had all year. You know, some things didn't go our way. That's the tough thing about softball. Sometimes, you can play your heart out and things just don't go your way in the end. That's tough in the postseason, but I'm proud of my kids and proud of the way they fought."
The Scots will have to fight their way through the remainder of the Regional Tournament in hopes of reaching their first Super Regional in school history. The Scots play tomorrow in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m.
The reigning USA South Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year said it was only one thing that could keep MC in the hunt.
"Keep playing as a family," Katlyn Smith said. "Keep our heads up and know that we can do this. We do know we can do this."
Maryville will play the loser of No. 16 DePauw University and St. Vincent College in Greencastle, Ind. With a win in that game, MC will play again at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"Just like she said, it's nothing special," Kelley said. "Everything that we've done all year long has been playing to our game. Playing to our standard, and hopefully, things will go more our way."
The Scots forced the 19th-ranked squad to leave a total of 10 batters stranded – seven of those in scoring position.
Smith ended the inning three times via strikeout, totaling nine on the afternoon.
"They always like to tell me that I like to make it dramatic," Smith said. "That's probably not the first time I've done that, and it probably won't be the last. I have confidence in my defense behind me, and I also have confidence in my offense. I know that if I get myself in that kind of hole, we can get out of it. I know my hitters are going to back me up."
The USA South Tournament MVP allowed just five hits and four earned runs in 6.2 innings of work. She tossed 170 total pitches in the game, as she walked 10 and faced two hit-by-pitch.
Senior Alexus Murray led the way at the plate, going 2-for-4, while Campbell was 1-for-2 with a homer and a pair of walks.
The Thunder struck early, plating the first run in the bottom of the second. Lainey McCue walked, before Victoria Porter reached on a fielder's choice. A wild pitch moved Porter to second, before Claire Ryan's RBI single up the middle made the score 1-0.
The Scots answered in the top of the fourth inning, as Sarah Gordon led off the inning with a single. A fielder's choice error would put two on, allowing both Torres and pinch runner Ashleigh Geary to advance. A wild pitch plated Geary for a 1-1 score through four.
Campbell would give the Scots the lead with one swing of the bat in the top of the fifth. Her solo shot to the opposite field gave MC the lead, 2-1.
Trine tied it in the bottom of the sixth inning, as they loaded the bases on a single and a pair of hit-by-pitch. Lexi Ayers drew a bases-loaded walk to knot things at 2-all.
Ashton Hayden drew a lead-off walk in the top of the seventh, promptly stealing second. Murray singled to right, pushing Hayden to third, before Reid Ballard's sacrifice fly to center gave the Scots their second lead of the game, 3-2.
A single and a pair of walks in the bottom of the seventh loaded the bases for Trine with two outs, before Clark's two-RBI shot gave the Thunder the victory.
Maryville College (28-10) was led by Murray and Campbell, as Casey Joliff was 1-for-1. Christina White was 1-for-2, while Gordon went 1-for-3. Geary and Hayden each scored runs for the Scots.
Trine (31-6) was led by Ryan who was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Clark was 1-for-2 with a pair of RBI.