Late home run lifts No. 6 Luther (Iowa) past No. 25 Ohio Northern in 2012 NCAA III Softball Championships

Late home run lifts No. 6 Luther (Iowa) past No. 25 Ohio Northern in 2012 NCAA III Softball Championships

By Tim Glon

| NCAA III Championships Site |

Salem, Va. -- A solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inn ing broke a 1-1 tie and lifted No. 6 Luther (Iowa) past No. 25 Ohio Northern 2-1 in Game 5 of the NCAA III Softball World Series Saturday morning at Moyer Park.

The Norse improve to 41-8 and advance in the loser's bracket. They will face the loser of Saturday's night's game between No. 15 Plattsburgh State (N.Y.) and Roanoke (Va.) on Sunday at 2:30 pm.

The Polar Bears end their season at 31-14.

"I have an enormous amount of pride for what our team accomplished this season," ONU head coach Kim Burke said. "Our seniors wanted to get back to the Championships so bad and they worked very hard to make it happen. We are disappointed at today's outcome. I thought we pitched well and played great defense, but just did not hit the ball enough."

Senior Cassie Gaye on the board in the top of the fifth frame when she drilled a towering leadoff home run just inside the left field foul pole.

The home run snapped a streak of 12 consecutive retired batters for the Polar Bears. It was Gaye's seventh of the season, the 16th of her career and her second in eight games of the NCAA Tournament.

"I was leading off the inning, so I was just hoping to get on base," Gaye said. "I was looking for a certain pitch and I got it. I felt it pop and knew I hit it hard. I thought we did a good job of adjusting to their pitcher as the game wore on, but we just seemed to hit the ball right at people."

The Norse tied the game in the bottom of the fifth frame on a 1-out double by Shari Huber. Huber then went to third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch.

Luther took a 2-1 lead with a leadoff solo home run by Kelsey Kittleson in the sixth inning, her 11th home run of the season.

Sophomore Dani Steepe took the loss and falls to 7-2 on the season, while LC's Becca Girvan gets the win and improves to 30-6 on the year.

Northern dropped to 28-3 in games in which its scored first, while the Norse are now 41-1 in games in which they scored one run or more.

Junior Ashleu Sujkowski collected two hits on Saturday and led the Polar Bears with five base hits at the NCAA III Championships.