NORMAL, Ill. — The third-seeded Owens Community College softball team reached the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division II national semifinal of the winner’s bracket with a 4-3 win over Heartland Thursday in the Elite Eight of the double-elimination tournament.
The Express (41-3) scored two runs in the fifth and added a run each in the sixth and seventh frames en route to the win.
Elizabeth Weber picked up the win in the pitching circle, going four innings while allowing one earned run, striking out seven in the process.
Shortstop Lindsey Bandeen was 3 for 4 with two RBIs in the win while first baseman Matea Rice added two hits.
The Express will play at noon Friday against No. 1-nationally ranked LSU-Euince (53-10) for a right to play in the national championship game
Behind a complete game seven-hitter from Jordan Ratliff and 11 hits on offense, the Express advanced earlier in the morning, beating Mineral Area College (Mo.) 7-2.
Michelle Hollister had a tremendous day offensively, as the only time she didn’t get a hit was when the Mineral Area’s centerfielder caught a ball at the warning track and fell over the fence in the fourth inning.
Hollister finished 2 for 3 with two singles, two runs, and two RBIs. Ashleigh Whitacre went 1 for 2 with two RBIs and a single. She executed two sacrifice bunts, one of which led to a run.
Owens jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Hollister singled and scored two batters later on a single to left center by Whitacre.
In the fifth Owens added three more on RBI singles from Alaina Haubert and Lindsey Bandeen, and an RBI groundout by Allison Hausch.
Mineral Area scored its first run in the top of the sixth, but the Express answered right back with three more of their own. Kelley Molloy and Bridget Wolfe hit back-to-back singles leading off the inning before Hollister knocked them both home with a two-run single.
Whitacre then provided the final Owens run via groundout to make it 7-1. Mineral Area added a run in the top of the seventh, but Haubert turned a 5-3 double play to end the game.
Other offensive performers for Owens were Kristen Roznoski, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored, and Haubert, who went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. Alex Perry took the loss for Mineral.