TYLER, TEXAS – The UT Tyler softball program claimed the 2022 NCAA Division II South Central Regional I Bracket Championship on Saturday afternoon with 3-1 and 9-2 victories over Lubbock Christian.
The regional crown is the first for the program at the NCAA Division II level, and advances the Patriots to next week’s NCAA Division II Super Regionals on May 19-20. UT Tyler has now claimed seven regional championships dating back to the program’s Division III era.
No. 1 seeded UT Tyler worked their way through the loser’s bracket with three straight victories to close out the tournament on their home turf, defeating no. 5 seeded Angelo State last night, and then avenging their only loss of the tournament on Saturday afternoon with a pair of victories over no. 4 seeded Lubbock Christian.
UT Tyler trailed by a 1-0 tally in each of the two must-win games on Saturday, but used a three-run bottom of the third inning in game one, and then nine runs in their final three trips to the plate in the game two victory to punch their ticket to the Super Regionals.
Sophomore Tatum Goff collected her third win of the South Central Regional Tournament in the 3-1 game one victory, tossing 7.0 complete innings while allowing just two hits and a single earned run. The sophomore finished her weekend with just a single earned run allowed in her 20.2 innings of work in the circle, and went 8-for-16 at the plate with nine RBI.
Goff struckout 19 batters in her four appearances, and surrendered a total of just nine hits.
She once again provided her own offensive support in game one after senior Ashley Perez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the ballgame at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning. Goff then drove in the two winning runs with an RBI single down the leftfield line to make it 3-1 in favor of UT Tyler.
The Rusk, Texas native proceeded to retire the next 12 Lady Chaps in order in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings in the circle to force a deciding game seven of the tournament.
Senior Jacey Henry got the start in that contest and went 5.1 innings while allowing just two earned run to collect her third win of the 2022 season. The Patriot offense quickly answered the lone Lady Chap run of the ballgame with four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, spurred by an RBI single by Goff that tied the game at 1-1.
Senior Bayli Simon provided the go-ahead run a few batters later with an RBI on a fielder’s choice, before a two-out double through the left side from Avery Farr broke the game open with the third and fourth runs of the frame for the Patriots.
Goff added her second RBI of game two on her next trip to the plate in the fifth, driving in sophomore Courtney Plocheck, who joined Goff with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, to make it 5-1 in favor of UT Tyler. Henry gave way in the circle to Goff in the top of the sixth for a relief performance that featured 1.2 innings of no-hit softball.
The Patriot offense then rallied in the bottom of the sixth with two outs on the board, plating an additional four runs to make it 9-2 and send the Patriots to the Super Regionals in their first appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Plocheck got the rally started with a two-RBI double to left center, and was followed up by an RBI single to rightfield by Perez that scored Plocheck.
Goff then put an exclamation mark on her career weekend with a shot to leftfield off the top of the wall that set Perez up to come home and score on a wild pitch in the ensuing at bat.
UT Tyler scored their nine runs off of 12 hits in the ball game, nine of which came from the top four batters in the lineup for the Patriots.
The NCAA will announce Super Regional sites and information shortly, with the Patriots figured to be the host of the South Central Super Regional against no. 2 seeded Texas A&M-Kingsville, who also advanced through the loser’s bracket of the South Central Regional II Bracket in Commerce, Texas.