“Going in, we knew we were going to have a strong opponent, especially after we just played a nine-inning game against them two days ago,” Reinhardt coach Glen Crawford said in a release. “We knew Bryan was going to hit the ball and pitch well. Our team could have just coasted, because they knew they already had a bid to the national tournament, but this team had the goal to go through and win the conference tournament. They just kept fighting the whole time and I am very proud with how well they played these last four days.”
Unlike in previous games in the tournament, Reinhardt (41-8) found itself having to play from behind.
While the Lady Eagles scored a run on a C.J. Browder sacrifice fly in the first, Bryan came back with four runs in the third inning to take the lead, but Reinhardt answered back in the bottom of the frame.
With one out, Wimpy drilled a full-count pitch over the fence in center for a two-run homer to pull Reinhardt within a run. Three batters later, Taylor Braselton tripled into the gap in right-center to score Browder, tying the score at 4-4.
Bryan left the bases loaded in the fifth, and Reinhardt took advantage to take the lead in the bottom of the inning. Browder stole second and later came around to score on a throwing error to give the Lady Eagles a 5-4 lead.
After Bryan left the bases loaded in the sixth, two insurance runs came in for Reinhardt in the home half of the frame. With the bases loaded, Wimpy singled through the right side of the infield, scoring Shelby Sinclair and Katie Rietkovich to give the Lady Eagles a 7-4 lead.
The lead was three, but Bryan tried to rally in the top of the seventh, as two solo home runs trimmed Reinhardt’s lead to one with just one out in the inning.
While Luck had just four strikeouts in the game, two were the final outs of the tournament as the freshman’s 159th pitch was swung at and missed to give Reinhardt the championship.
“Madison was dead tired at the end of the game, but I told her that if she could just get us through one more inning, she’d have two weeks off,” Crawford said of the tournament MVP.
Wimpy and Browder joined Luck as part of the all-tournament team.
Reinhardt will next be in action May 12 when it hosts a first-round regional of the NAIA tournament. The other three teams will be announced May 6.