St. Gregory’s rallied from a four-run deficit to eliminated the Mustangs in the NAIA Softball World Series.

Morgan Fogelman

Third-ranked St. Gregory’s rallied from a four-run deficit in the sixth inning to defeat Morningside 9-6 in Saturday’s elimination bracket play and bounce the Mustangs from the 2016 NAIA Softball World Series at the Jensen Softball Complex.

The 15th-ranked Mustangs finished the season with a record of 47-10 for their most wins in school history, while St. Gregory’s improved its record to 47-6 heading into a Monday elimination bracket contest against No. 17 Marian. The Mustangs were this year’s GPAC regular season and post-season tournament champions as well as the winner of the Morningside Bracket of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round en route to their first-ever appearance in the NAIA Softball World Series.

Morningside was on the verge of knocking St. Gregory’s out of the tournament after Morgan Fogelman slugged a grand slam home run in the top of the sixth inning to give the Mustangs a 6-2 lead.

The Mustangs’ lead was short lived, however, when the Cavaliers staged a seven-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the Mustangs’ season. The inning began with a leadoff walk to Ashli Hafford. One out later the Cavaliers’ Maria Mercado Contreras singled to center field for the first of St. Gregory’s six hits in the inning. The Cavaliers’ loudest hits were two-run doubles by Janely Cruz and Jessica Nelson. 

St. Gregory’s seven-run explosion came after Morningside had scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 6-2 lead. The Mustangs’ sixth inning action began with a walk to Abby Conner, followed by an Allie Martinez single to left field. After McKenzie Anderson reached on a fielder’s choice, Emilee Dorpinghaus was hit by a pitch to load the bases and set the stage for Fogelman, who hammered an 0-1 pitch from Ashli Hafford far over the left field fence for a grand slam to put the Mustangs in front 6-2.

The Mustangs tried to come back in the top of the seventh losing the lead in the bottom of the sixth. The Mustangs brought the tying run to the plate after Abby Conner singled and Rachel Koch was hit by a pitch to chase Hafford. St. Gregory’s reliever Bryn Houlton came on in relief and retired both batters she faced for her third save of the season.

Morningside scored the first run of the game to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Koch reached on a fielder’s choice and eventually scored on a passed ball.

St. Gregory’s took a 2-1 lead on a two-run single by Katie Godfrey in the bottom of the third inning before the Mustangs tied the score at 2-2 in the top of the fourth on a RBI single by Fogelman.

Fogelman finished with a home run, single, and five RBIs, while Landgren and Martinez each had a pair of singles. The Mustangs’ other hits were singles by Koch and Conner.

St. Gregory’s scored seven runs on eight hits against Mustang starter Rachel Henks, who walked four and struck out three. Mustang reliever Aubrey Voboril allowed two runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning.

Sutv Meely went four-for-four to pace an 11-hit St. Gregory’s offensive attack. Godfrey had two hits and three RBIs and Cruz had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs.

Hafford allowed six runs on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts to get the win.

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