The No. 4-ranked UT Tyler softball team advanced to the NCAA Division III Super Regional round after earning a pair of wins over No. 5 Texas Lutheran on Saturday in the Tyler Regional finals at Suddenlink Field.
The Patriots (42-4) will host the Super Regional next weekend against either No. 17 Whitworth or No. 10 East Texas Baptist. The Tigers and Whitworth will play a regional final on Sunday afternoon in Marshall after WC forced the if-needed contest with a 3-1 win over ETBU on Saturday. UT Tyler, which also topped TLU in last year’s regional, did not need an extra game to advance to the next round after cruising through its home regional with three straight wins, including an 8-6 win to start the day and then a 5-2 win that ended with a dogpile inside the pitcher’s circle.
UT Tyler freshman Whitney Romero (14-1) was named the regional’s most valuable player and earned the win in the game after striking out six and limiting the Bulldogs to three hits. Romero, who also hit a two-run home run in the day’s opener, fielded a grounder and tossed to first base to end the tournament. She also had the save in the first game of the day to showcase her versatility as a pitcher, and now, a hitter. Kaylee Prather went 2-for-4 and scored a run for the Patriots, while KK Stevens was 2-for-2 and Bianca Van Vlerah 2-for-3. Hannah Moore was 1-for-3 with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning.
The Patriots led 2-0 after the first inning with KK Stevens hitting an RBI double and Mel Hinojosa picking up another RBI on a groundout. The lead grew to 4-0 in the third with Hinojosa hitting an RBI single through the middle of the infield and Bianca Van Vlerah hitting an RBI double down the right-field line. TLU would get runs in the fourth and fifth innings to make it 4-2, but a sixth inning home run by Hannah Moore would cap scoring for the day with Romero cruising in the top of the seventh.
TLU came into the day on a 38-game winning streak and had its season end with a 38-6 overall record.