GREENCASTLE, Ind. – Defiance reached a pair of milestones in its 8-2 victory over Thomas More on Saturday, advancing to the NCAA Regional semifinal for the first time in program history. The Jackets move to 30-15 on the year, becoming the first DC squad to ever reach the 30-win plateau.
DC starter Justine Johnston reached a milestone of her own in the game, setting a single-season record with her 19th victory of the season. The senior pitcher held the Saints to two runs on eight hits, winning for the fifth time in her last six starts.
Defiance put on its best display of the tournament, scoring eight runs on 15 hits in the game. Aarika Davis topped the Jackets with four hits in the contest, while Mallory Faling and Allison Ramsay finished with three hits and two hits respectively. Faling led DC with three RBI, as Kayla Crager drove in a pair of runs while Davis, Lieto and Stucke also tallied RBIs in the game.
After two scoreless frames, Defiance broke through with a trio of runs in the third. Allison Ramsay led off the inning with a triple to right field, before scoring one batter later on Aarika Davis' single up the middle. DC kept the rally alive, loading the bases with two outs for Mallory Faling. Faling took advantage of the scoring opportunity, hitting a line drive to left center to plate Tasha Stucke and Melanie Bushman and give the Jackets a 3-0 advantage.
DC kept the fire going in the fourth, pouring in five runs in the inning. Ramsay opened up her second-straight inning with a hit, reaching on a single up the middle. After Amanda Auzins' sacrifice bunt moved Ramsay to second, Davis' second hit of the day, a single down the right field line, would put runners on the corners with one out. Stucke drove in Ramsay with a sacrifice fly, giving Defiance a 4-0 advantage.
For the second inning in a row, the Jackets came up big with two outs, as five-consecutive batters reached. Bushman started the two-out rally with a single through the left side to move Davis to third. After Marah Robinson drew a walk to load the bases, Faling came through again, singling through the left side to score Davis from third.
Crager followed that with a two-run single to center, driving in Bushman and Robinson. Stephanie Lieto closed out the scoring in the inning with a double off the fence in left center that plated pinch runner Katie Bowman, giving Defiance a commanding 8-0 lead through four frames.
Thomas More found the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning, using a two-run home run by Kim Prahl to cut the deficit to six runs, 8-2. However, the Defiance pitching staff settled in over the final three innings, as Johnston and closer Kelly Schnipke held the Saints scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Defiance will turn around and face host DePauw University at 4:00 p.m. The Jackets can advance to the NCAA Regional final with a victory, where they will meet Ohio Northern.