Salem, VA --- The WPI softball team's epic 2022 season came to an end with a 6-0 loss at the hands of Texas Lutheran on day two of the NCAA Championship Finals at Moyer Park in Salem, Virginia.
WPI ends the season at 35-17, after earning its first-ever berth in the NCAA Division III Softball Finals, the furthest run in program history. The road to the finals saw the Engineers take home the NEWMAC Tournament title, the NCAA Glenside Regional title, and the Worcester Super Regional title. In addition, head coach Heather Ross now stands as the winningest first-year coach in Engineer Athletics history.
Texas Lutheran, ranked second in the latest NFCA Top 25 and seeded fourth in the Championship Finals, improves to 44-5 on the season and advances in the elimination bracket to meet the loser of the Christopher Newport/Berry game in the winner's bracket later today.
The Bulldogs' Ashlyn Strother (Seabrook, TX) fired a two-hit shutout to improve to 24-0 on the season. Meanwhile, the Texas Lutheran offense pounded out nine hits, led by a two-hit, two-RBI day from Casey Martin (Pearland, TX).
WPI's offense was limited to a double from Kelly Pritchard (Orange, CT) and a single from Shaina Lazarus (Thousand Oaks, CA). In the circle, Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) suffered the loss, finishing her season with a 25-8 record. She threw a complete game, allowing six runs - just two earned - on nine hits with two strikeouts on two walks. The graduate student wraps her outstanding career with 48 victories.
Scoreless until the top of the fourth inning, Texas Lutheran struck first on an RBI groundout from Martin.
The scoring continued in the top of the fifth, as the Bulldogs plated two more. A double from Faith Hernandez (Dinuba, CA) and a single from Chassety Raines (Spring, TX) made it 3-0.
WPI threatened in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out double from Pritchard down the left-field line. However, Strother got the final two batters of the inning on strikeouts to end the threat.
An Engineers' fielding error in the top of the sixth allowed Texas Lutheran to make it a 4-0 game, before the Bulldogs tacked on two more in the top of the seventh, including another RBI from Martin to make it 6-0.
Lazarus singled for WPI with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Strother got another K to end the game.
It marked the final game in Crimson and Gray for Martin and senior starting DP Stephanie Bishop (Milford, NH) while classmates Lindsay Ambrosino (Chelmsford, MA) and Gabriella Cerbo (Middletown, NJ) look to return for a fifth year.