Greencastle, Ind. - Morgan McCord's opposite field homer to right in the bottom of the eighth was the difference as DePauw stayed alive in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship with a 5-4 elimination game win over Alma.
The Tigers improved to 36-15 and will face Linfield at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in another elimination game after the Wildcats lost to Texas-Tyler 2-1. Alma finished its season at 30-17.
McCord's blast, just the second of her rookie season, came as the leadoff hitter in the eighth and on an 1-2 count. It also marked the Tigers' eighth final at-bat win this season and moved their record to 4-0 in elimination games.
"Going up to bat, I knew that Jen Ridge had put it all out on the field, Kahla (Nolan) pitched her heart out and Taylor (Golden) was killing the ball and that I should do my part and end the game right there," McCord said.
DePauw jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first as Sammi Bell led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball before Elizabeth Getz singled her to third. Getz stole second and when the Scots' shortstop couldn't handle the throw, Bell scored from third. Linsey Button's single advanced Getz to third and Lauren Godden delivered a sacrifice fly to right.
Alma tied the game in the second as Sarah Collier and Brooke Hein each reached on errors and Cori Witham followed with a single to load the bases. Marie Zill's single plated pinch-runner Celeste Boyer and Anna Couture's sacrifice fly scored Hein.
The Scots took the lead in the fifth when Couture led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on Kayla Merice's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Devan Olah's grounder.
DePauw countered in the fifth as Getz drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Button's single to left. Godden then hit a hard grounder to third for an RBI-single that evened the score at 3-3.
Alma regained the advantage in the sixth as Witham singled home Hein, but DePauw again evened the score in the bottom of the inning. McCord singled with one out and moved to second on a passed ball. Jennifer Ridge's grounder advanced McCord to third before Gabby Smart reached on an error that allowed McCord to score.
Emma Baldwin replaced Kahla Nolan in the circle in the seventh and retired the Scots in order. Button led off the DePauw seventh with a walk, but was doubled off of first after Godden lined out to right. Allie Dennie reached on a walk and Megan Montgomery replaced her as a pinch-runner. Taylor Golden hammered a double to right center, but Montgomery was thrown out trying to score.
Baldwin then pitched another 1-2-3 in the eighth and set the stage for the Tigers' heroics.
"I'm really proud of our team," DePauw head coach Erica Hanrahan said.
"That felt a lot like the regionals and the super regionals. That looked a lot more like DePauw. We had a little bit of shaky defense early on and the same kids came back and made the plays when it counted at the end and our offense consistenly battled."
DePauw totaled 10 hits with Bell, Button and McCord each finishing with two. Witham had two of Alma's three hits.
Nolan started and allowed just one earned run on three hits with three walks in six innings, while Baldwin improved to 14-6 after retiring all six batters she faced. Alma's Morgan Stratton dropped to 19-9.