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PLU women win College World Series ... in 'feel-good' rebound
Smiles flashed and tears flowed when the mod of yellow jerseys swarmed the pitcher’s circle after the Lutes won it all at the 2012 NCAA Division III Softball Championships.
(Note on photos: Virginia based sports photographer Keith Lucas covered Pacific Lutheran's road to victory during the 2012 Division III softball World Series.)
Yesterday, senior pitcher Stacey Hagensen (shown above) lead Pacific Lutheran University to their first-ever NCAA Division III softball championship with a 3-0 victory over Conference rival Linfield in Salem, Virginia.
Hagensen was crowned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, shutting out Linfield’s powerhouse offense for the second time this season, in addition to pitching all 58 innings with a 0.60 ERA providing an 8-0 record during the Regional and Nation Tournaments.
Despite Hagensen’s outstanding performance she remains humble sharing credit with the rest of her team.
“It’s not only a reflection on me, it’s a reflection on my team,” said Hangensen of her Most Outstanding Player award during a post-game interview. “I couldn’t have done anything without them.”
Fixing last year's loss
This victory is especially important to PLU, after a heartbreakingly early finish to last year’s season — the Lutes lost to Linfield for the Conference Title, leaving them out of the play offs.
Sophomore outfielder Shelby Hasse explained that last year’s season ending loss and the feelings that followed were what drove the team to excellence this year. Hasse also said that hard work was the driving force pushing her team to shine this season.
Before each game the Lutes chat their motto “l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace,” translating to “audacity, audacity, always audacity” or, less literally, as the team also puts it: “Bold courage in the face of adversity.”
“I am unbelievably proud of these girls. We have had so many obstacles put in front of us. No one can take this away from you. You are now a national champion for the rest of your life and you’ve earned it,” says head coach Erin Ban Nostrand to her team in a post-game interview.
Never a dull moment for this softball program — a fun, wacky, energetic and motivating environment complements the team’s competitive nature. Whether it’s playing Ultimate Frisbee or creating a musical masterpiece on buckets before a game.
“We’re cooky not cocky,” said Hagensen commenting on her team’s lively character.
- Today, Pacific Lutheran University will hold a honorary celebration at 4:00 p.m. welcoming home the new National Champions.
The regional and national rundown
- The Lutes started their winning streak in Tyler, Texas, beating the Huntington (Ala.) Hawks 8-0 at the Regional Tourney Opener on Friday, May 11. Kaaren Hatlen lead her team to victory with three runs off of a RBI double and a two RBI homerun.
- Pacific Lutheran progressed in the winners bracket as they beat the Redlands Bulldogs 2-1 after eight hard-fought innings on Saturday, May 12.
- Beating Claremont McKenna-Mudd-Scripps 5-1 on Sunday, May 13 the Lutes advance to the regional title game.
- After throwing a four-hit shutout Stacey Hagensen was named the Tournament's MVP leading the Lutes to a 4-0 victory over the Texas-Tyler Patriots, claiming a seat in the running for the NCAA Division III National Title.
- Proving that the Northwest Conference is a force to be reckoned with the Lutes shut out the Luther Vikings 8-0 in the NCAA Opener on Friday, May 18 in Salem, Virginia.
- Facing off against the Linfield Wildcats on Saturday, May 19 the Lutes continued their postseason winning streak as Amanda Hall lead her team to a 5-3 victory after crushing a three-run homerun.
- After 12 hard-fought innings in the semi-finals Pacific Lutheran pulled out a 2-1 win of the Montclair State Red Hawks on Sunday, May 20 as Amanda Hall once again lead her team to victory with a RBI single through the middle of the diamond.
- Monday, May 21, winner-take-all. Pacific Lutheran faces off against Northwest Conference rival Linfield for the second time. Emotions ran high as the Lutes defeated the Wildcats 3-0 winning their first-ever Division II softball championship.
See full recap and box scores of each game here.