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SOFTBALL: PLU and Decatur grad Spencer Sherwin win NCAA Division III title
The Pacific Lutheran University softball team and Decatur High School graduate Spencer Sherwin brought home the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Monday.
The Lutes beat Linfield 3-0 at the Moyer Complex in Salem, Va. to snag their first-ever Division III title.
The Lutes, who won six of the nine games played against Linfield, finished the season with a 45-11 record. Linfield, which came up short of defending its 2011 national title, ended up 46-7.
The Lutes were led by the pitching of Stacey Hagensen, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Hangensen, a Newport High grad, limited Linfield to just three baserunners in the championship.
The PLU offense gave Hagensen the only run she would need in the bottom of the first inning. Montessa Califano, an all-tournament pick, led off with a walk and and went to second on Glenelle Nitta's sacrifice fly, but Califano ran into an out on Hagensen's ground ball to Linfield shortstop Katy Brosig.
That brought to the plate Woodinville's Kaaren Hatlen, PLU's first team All-America designated player who, to this point in the tournament, didn't have a hit. With Hagensen on second base following a wild pitch, Hatlen ripped a double to the fence in right field, scoring Hagensen and staking PLU to a 1-0 advantage.
The Lutes played add-on in the fourth, scoring a run on two hits to make it 2-0. Hatlen led off with a single and was replaced on the base paths by Sherwin, a 2010 Decatur grad, who stole second. Kennewick's Amanda Hall, named to the all-tournament team, collected her fifth RBI in four games with a single to right centerfield.
The final run came in the fifth inning when Puyallup's Amanda Goings and Califano led off with consecutive singles. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, but Nitta's line drive was snared on an outstanding diving catch by Linfield's Jaydee Baxter. Goings was unable to tag up on the play, but she scored moments later on Hagensen's fielder's choice ground ball.
Sherwin started the championship game in center field, but didn't have an at bat during the game. Hatlen was the Lutes' DH for Sherwin.
On the season, Sherwin appeared in 52 of the Lutes' 56 games and started 42. Sherwin was one of PLU's better defenders and played numerous positions during the Lutes' championship run.
Sherwin hit .267 in just 15 at bats, but scored 14 runs and had one double, one home run and two RBIs. She also had six stolen bases.
Last season, Sherwin hit .333 while starting 27 of the 33 games she appeared in during the 2011 season.
Along the way to the national title, PLU defeated Luther (Iowa) 8-0 in five innings, Linfield, 5-3, Montclair State, 2-1, in 12 innings, and Linfield again, 3-0 in the championship. Hagensen pitched all 31 innings at the Division III Softball Championship and had a 0.68 earned run average, limiting her opponents to three earned runs on 21 hits with 16 strikeout and one walk.