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St. Norbert Holds Off Cornell Charge to Earn NCAA Tournament Berth

From Asst. AD/Athletics Communications, May 6, 2017 | Softball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College held on by its collective fingernails to earn its first NCAA Division III Tournament berth in five years with a 6-4 win over Cornell College in the championship game of the Midwest Conference Tournament at Miron Construction Field at Mel Nicks Sports Complex.

The Green Knights (21-14) earned their first national tournament bid since 2012 after holding off a last-ditch rally by Cornell (28-10), which erased a 6-0 deficit with four runs in the top of the seventh inning. St. Norbert will find out its NCAA Tournament assignment at Noon Monday.

St. Norbert got off to a strong start, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Green Knights coaxed four consecutive walks from Cornell starting pitching Jesse Applehans, with Lexy Campshure and Carley Frauenhoff forcing in a pair of runs with free passes.

The Green Knights built a 4-0 lead with two more runs in the second inning. Tia Danforth's two-out, two-run double brought home Brianna Braeger and Randi Morack.

That lead held up until Danforth's double in the fifth inning plated Leigh Grall for a 5-0 edge. Grall then added another insurance run with a double to score Braeger in the bottom of the sixth inning.

From there, the Rams would mount a furious comeback attempt that fell inches short. Cornell opened the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Tana Kemmer's double then cut the deficit to 6-2. Stephanie Xavier singled and advanced to second on an error, with another run scoring. A groundout for the first out of the inning brought in a fourth run, advancing Xavier to third.

Melissa Orton's smash down the third-base line was backhanded by Danforth, who threw across the diamond for the second out. Kat Edmond, Cornell's clean-up hitter, then rifled a line drive to center field, but Amy McBride came in to make a diving catch to end the game and set off a wild celebration in the outfield.

Sydney Pfotenhauer, who went 3-0 in the tournament, allowed nine hits - five in the seventh inning. She did not walk or strike out a batter.

Danforth was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Grall and Braeger were both 2-for-4. Braeger and Morack scored two runs apiece for the Green Knights, who had eight hits.