ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Opening up the NSIC tournament quarterfinals on Friday afternoon, the No. 16 Augustana softball team won a pair of thrilling games to advance to the tournament championship on Saturday. Augustana, who also became the first team in the nation to 50 wins, opened the day with a 1-0 win over Concordia-St. Paul. Moving to the semifinals, Augustana came back in the final two innings for a 3-2 victory over Minnesota State.
Augustana, who is now 50-8 on the year, advances to take on the champion of the losers bracket. No. 6 Winona State, St. Cloud State, and Minnesota State all have one loss in the double-elimination tournament.
Moments that mattered:
• In the quarterfinal win, Ashley Mickschl was brilliant in the circle, tossing a complete-game four-hitter. The first-team All-NSIC selection recorded her 19th complete-game
• Shannon Petersen collected multiple hits (2), and also drove in the games only run on an RBI single.
• In game two, Augustana trailed 2-0 going into the fifth inning. Mary Pardo had a solo home run for the first Viking run.
• Amber Elliott pitched five innings to get the win. Elliott also had a clutch RBI double to score Becca Koupal and tie the game at 2-2.
• Kara McDougall secured the game-winning RBI on a sac-fly, scoring Elliott.
The Augustana offense started strong in the first frame. Mickschl reached first on an error, stole second, and came around to score on an RBI single from Shannon Petersen. Heading to the top of the second, the Vikings had a 1-0 lead.
Mickschl got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second and continued to pitch well into the fourth. The Sophomore racked up four strikeouts through the first three innings.
The story of game one was the Vikings outstanding defense. In the third, with a Golden Bear runner on first, Justine Schattner roped the offering to the left field fence. Kendall Cornick fielded the ball, threw the relay to Amanda Dickmeyer, who then threw home where Maggie Kadrlik applied the tag at the plate.
Kadrlik also threw out a runner at second base, and the Vikings ended game one with 21 putouts, nine assists, and zero errors.
Although Kara Mcdougall and Mary Pardo recorded a hit, the Augustana offense only needed the one run. Mickschl kept the opposition off balance with a variety of pitches and ended the seventh with her sixth strikeout of the day. It' the first one-run game for the Vikings since April 9 vs. Winona State.
Following an upset from Minnesota State over top-seed Winona, Augustana took on the Mavericks with a title berth on the line.
Augustana started game two with more great defense. Following a single up the middle, Kara Mcdougall released a rocket to home plate where Kadrlik applied the tag for the out.
Minnesota State did go on to plate a pair of runs - on a passed ball and single to center - and moving to the top of the third, Augustana trailed 2-0. Amber Elliott came into start the third inning and pitched well. The Sophomore tossed five innings and allowed just two hits.
The Viking offense got a jump start in the bottom of the fifth. Mary Pardo stepped in a crushed the offering to the straight-away center for a solo home run. It's the freshman 15th home run this season, which leads the team and NSIC.
Trailing 2-1 to start the 6th, Maggie Kadrlik reached first on an error. Becca Koupal pinch ran, and following an Amber Elliottdouble, scored from first to tie the game at 2-2. Elliott eventually advanced to third, and with one out, McDougall came up with the biggest swing of the day. The Junior's sac-fly scored Elliott, who then turned around and pitched a clean seventh inning to close the door.
Augustana now takes on either No. 6 Winona State, St. Cloud State, or Minnesota State, whom all have one loss in the double-elimination tournament. All games of the NSIC Softball tournament are played at the RYFSA Complex in Rochester, Minn.