WINONA, Minn. -- The Augustana softball team opened up the NCAA central region tournament with some late-game excitement on Thursday, defeating Missouri Western 8-7 in walk-off fashion. Tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh, Senior Shannon Petersen hit a sac-fly to right field, scoring Ashley Mickschl for the game-winning run.
Augustana improves to 52-9 on the year and sees head coach Gretta Melsted collect her 600th career win. Melsted started her career at Culver-Stockton College (MO), where she won 81 games over three seasons.
The Vikings survive and advance in the double-elimination tournament, moving on to take on second-seed Winona State on Friday at 1 p.m.
Moments that mattered:
• Shannon Petersen finished 3-4 with three RBI, including a home run and the game-winning RBI in the 7th
• Ashley Mickschl got the start for the Viking, collecting four strikeouts in four innings of work. Mickschl also collected two hits and scored a game-high four runs.
• Amber Elliot pitched the final three frames, allowing one run and picking up the win.
• Maggie Kadrlik had two hits and launched her team-high 15th home run of the season.
• Kendall Cornick had three hits and one RBI.
Missouri Western opened the top of the first with an RBI single down the third base line, but Mickschl settled in to collect a pair of strikeouts and end the inning.
The Vikings offense also came to life in the first frame. Ashley Mickschl collected the first hit with a single up the middle, and then moments later Kendall Cornick drove a ball down the right field line for an RBI double. After one inning of action, Missouri Western maintained a 1-0 lead.
The Griffons add three more unearned runs in the top of the second, but the Vikings threatened in the bottom of the second. Following a walk from Christina Pickett and a single from Samantha Eisenreich, Dunnett picked up her first RBI of the NCAA tournament with a sac-fly.
Cornick reached again in the third inning but was called out for leaving early. On the next pitch, Maggie Kadrlik drilled her 15th home run of the year, making it a 4-3 game.
In the fourth, Mo West stretched their lead to 6-3, but the Vikings made it four straight innings with a run. This time Shannon Petersen found space up the middle, scoring Mickschl and making it 6-4.
Moving to the sixth frame the visitors added another run, making it a 7-4 game. All seven of the Griffons runs came with two outs on the diamond.
The Vikings comeback started in the sixth as Mickschl laced a double to right field. Cornick and Kadrlik both recorded outs, but Petersen came up clutch with a no-doubt two-run home run to right. Moving to the top of the 7th, Augustana trailed 7-6.
Mary Pardo started off the seventh with a double to the power ally in right, and Mickschl reached first on an error from shortstop. Kadrlik doubled down the right field line to score Pardo, tie the game, and move Mickschl to third. Moments later, Petersen hit a fly ball down the line, and Mickschl sprinted home for the game-winning run.
The Vikings move onto the semifinals where they will take on Winona State at 1 p.m. on Friday. All games are played at Maynard R. Johnson Field in Winona, Minnesota.