The Lady Eagles moved through the double-elimination regional without suffering a single loss at Ken White Field, capping it Wednesday with a 16-6 win over Biola.
Reinhardt coach Glen Crawford said advancing to the World Series is a goal his team set prior to the season.
“We are definitely excited to be moving on,” he said.
Wednesday afternoon, it looked as if Biola, a team that made a cross-country trip from the outskirts of Los Angeles, might get the best of Reinhardt.
The visiting team on the scoreboard, the Lady Eagles (44-8) trailed 3-1 after the second inning and 6-3 after the third inning, but they pushed 13 runs across the plate in the final two innings to beat Biola (36-14).
As Reinhardt trailed 6-3 going into the top of the sixth, Crawford reminded his players of what they are capable of accomplishing.
“I just said to them, ‘Ladies, (on Tuesday) we scored four runs in the sixth inning to put us up 10-5. We can do that again. We can’t get them on one swing though. We have to get them one at a time. Let’s just show them who we are,’” Crawford said.
Biola retired seven straight batters headed into the sixth inning, but the streak ended in stunning fashion.
After C.J. Browder was hit by a pitch and Kaley Garmon drew a walk, Taylor Braselton advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Biola pitcher CeCe Luster, who entered the game with one out in the fifth, then walked Maddie Evans on four pitches to load the bases. A wild pitch during former Creekview High School standout Alexis Chumbler’s at-bat allowed Browder to score and cut Biola’s lead to 6-4.
Katie Blair stepped to the plate to pinch-hit, and Amber Herrington, another Creekview product who was running for Garmon, scored on a wild pitch and Blair eventually walked to again load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Amanda Rutkowski then connected for a two-run single through the left side of the infield, giving Reinhardt a 7-6 lead.
With runners on second and third, Katie Rietkovich put more pressure on Biola with one swing of the bat. The senior connected with the first pitch she saw and drove it over the wall in center field, adding three runs and making the lead 10-6.
Reinhardt wasn’t done. The next two batters — Randi Wimpy and Browder — both reached base safely. Garmon, batting for the second time in the inning, drove in Wimpy with a groundout, and Braselton capped the inning with an RBI double to right-center for the 12-6 lead.
Reinhardt pitcher Madison Luck, who struggled early, retired the side in the sixth and allowed the offense to get back to work.
Reinhardt’s bats were still hot in the seventh as the Lady Eagles quickly loaded the bases before Wimpy’s RBI single and Browder’s bases-clearing triple put Reinhardt up 16-6.
Crawford said the players never got down on themselves.
“They battled and made adjustments,” he said. “I told them to finish the game strong. I said, ‘Let’s finish going to Columbus strong,’ and they were up to that challenge as well.”
Luck’s record improved to 34-2 on the season. The freshman from Creekview gave up six runs — all earned — on eight hits and two walks. She struck out three.
Wimpy finished the game 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Browder was 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs scored, while Rietkovich was 1-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs.
Reinhardt will move on to play in Columbus, and will open May 23 as the fifth seed among 10 teams. The Lady Eagles will begin play against St. Gregory’s (Okla.).
As for hosting the opening-round regional, Crawford said it was an experience he would definitely like to have again.
“Hopefully, everyone had a good time,” he said. “It was a lot of work for us up front, but once we got going, it ran smoothly. With our coaching staff and maintenance people here, and everybody at Reinhardt that pitched in, I got to coach. That was the best part. I can’t thank them enough. It was a blessing to see people at Reinhardt come out and support us.”