Softball Falls in Opening Game of Championship Series
Wednesday, June 7, 2023


MARSHALL, Texas – In a game that featured great play on both sides of the field, the Trine University softball team came up just short of top-seeded Salisbury University in the first game of the 2023 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Series.

"It was just a very well-played and even softball game," said head coach Don Danklefsen, "We outhit them, we had less errors, we just had too many runners left on base. They got the big hit when they needed it and we didn't."

The team served as visitors for the game, with Alexis Michon taking the circle as the starter. She pitched well from the start, but so did the opposition with neither team reaching base in the first two innings.

Trine backed up their pitcher with now characteristic great defense with Emma Lee turning in the highlight reel catches for the day. She started with one in deep center and then made a diving catch in left field, both ending the first two innings.

"I just knew I had to do what I could to get out of the inning so we could have more at-bats," said Lee.

The Thunder's Ainsley Phillips broke up the no-hitter for the Sea Gulls in the top of the third but no runs came out of it. On the other side a pair of walks and a sacrifice bunt moved runners into scoring position for a sacrifice fly. The first run of the game came with Michon retaining her no-hitter bid despite trailing 1-0.

The team didn't trail for long with Lee leading off the fourth with a double and then making it home on an RBI-single by Karley Trine. Michon continued to pitch without a hit until the bottom of the fifth and even then, Salisbury did nothing with the runner.

"Our pitchers did a good job today," continued Danklefsen, "If we get a couple hits at the right time we don't question that at all."

Trine took a lead of their own in the top of the sixth. Lee recorded another hit to start the inning before the team loaded the bases on a bunt single and a walk. Amanda Prather recorded the RBI on a sacrifice fly allowing Lee to score from third.

In the bottom half of the inning Michon faced her second struggles of the game walking the second batter. It was enough for Danklefsen to make the change and bring Debbie Hill in from the bullpen. The Sea Gulls were ready for the shift and still loaded the bases after the change. A pinch-hit single tied the game before the Thunder got out of the inning.

With the score 2-2 in the seventh, Trine put two on base with just one out on the board. The second of those runners was once again Lee, who finished the day 3-for-4 while scoring both of the team's runs.

"The ump had a tight zone all day and we knew it," Lee explained, "I just was being patient and waiting for the pitch that looked good to me before trying to put the ball in play."

Salisbury made a change at pitcher of their own and were able to pitch out of the jam despite loading the bases with a walk. They then walked off the game in the bottom half of the inning with a triple followed by a home run over the centerfield wall.

The Thunder fall to 44-6 following the loss, which puts their backs against the wall again. They will need to win both games tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7 to win the national championship. One loss would eliminate them from contention. They will start the day as the home team with a game at 11 a.m. CT / noon ET.

"I think they're resilient and will come to play tomorrow," concluded Danklefsen, "I asked them that if at the beginning of the year we told you that you had to win two games in one day to win a championship would you take that deal? I know I would. We never seem to take the easy path so why start now."