NORMAL - The Heartland College softball team decided to extend its storybook, inaugural season another day. | Photo gallery
The No. 6-ranked Hawks bounced back from a first-round loss to defeat Delaware Tech, 10-3, Thursday night and avoid elimination in the NJCAA Division II National Championships at Champion Fields.
"We're still alive," said Heartland center-fielder Amanda Sartoris. "It will take a lot to get there, but it's just one game at a time right now."
Heartland (35-11), which opened the day with a 3-0 loss to No. 3-ranked Lansing, Mich., will face Kankakee (43-10) at noon Friday.
"We just went back to what's been working for us," said Heartland coach Shae Wesley. "When we take care of our business and play our game, more times than not we'll come out on top."
Playing in a steady drizzle, the Hawks scored two unearned runs in the top of the first inning against Delaware Tech (26-11) before breaking the game open with a five-run third.
Jessica Schaefer led off the third for Heartland with a solo homer to center field off losing pitcher Erin Tingle.
"It was really great to start that inning off like that," Schaefer said. "I saw the pitch and it was beautiful, and I lit it up. Of course, everybody congratulates you when you get home, and then it starts right over.
"Our hitting is contagious, so once one person hits everybody hits. It was good to see our offense go to work."
Hannah Dow (11-5) went the distance for Heartland, allowing five hits and only one earned run while striking out five and walking three. Dow worked around five Heartland errors.
"She's gotten stronger and stronger as the year has gone on," Wesley said of Dow. "She learned a couple of new pitches from our pitching coach. She's a quick learner."
Heartland supported Dow with a 13-hit attack. Sartoris went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in, and Sarah Waylock also had three hits. Dow helped her own cause with two hits, while Amber May and Schaefer each had two RBIs.
"The first game we got caught off guard, so basically we knew we had to get it started from the first inning in this game and get things popping," Sartoris said. "Everybody fed off of that.
"It was one of (Dow's) better games, especially in this kind of weather. I give her a lot of credit."
Cirina Jones' towering three-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning gave No. 3-ranked Lansing all the offense it needed. Jones connected on a 3-2 count to cap a nine-pitch at bat against Heartland ace May.
"I think the gal (May) missed her pitch and put it in our girl's wheel house, and the rest is history," said Lansing coach Bob Every. "There wasn't anything cheap about it."
Heartland managed only two hits off Lansing starter Brianna Carpenter, who struck out 11 and walked one.
"I don't want to say we had jitters," Wesley said. "I think we were trying to do too much, which takes away from your fundamentals a little bit. We were trying to overplay things.
"We were kind of all over the place at the plate. We got behind, we got jammed, we got ahead. I don't think we were feeling at ease."
May (18-4) was plagued by uncharacteristic wildness, walking seven and hitting three batters in a 143-pitch outing. May allowed six hits and struck out 13. The Stars stranded 12 runners, leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and the fifth.
"That's a very good pitcher we faced, but we've got a good hitting team," Every said. "A lot of credit goes to Heartland. 2000 was our first trip to the nationals, and it was the first time we had a program. Just to be here in your inaugural season has got to be really nice.
"We didn't do everything right today, but we didn't blow ourselves in the foot, either. We got away from a pitcher who I feel is going to be heard from before this tournament is over."
NJCAA Div. II
AT CHAMPION FIELDS, NORMAL
Heartland 000… 000 0-0-2-0
Lansing, Mich. 300 000 x-3-6-2
Amber May (L, 18-4) and Callie Schmidt. Brianna Carpenter (W) and Tiffany Cupp.
HEARTLAND - Pitching - May (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 13 K, 7 BB).
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LANSING, MICH. - HR - Cirina Jones (2 on in 1st). 2B - Cupp. Two hits - Cupp. Pitching - Carpenter (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 11 K, 1 BB).
Heartland 205… 120 0-10-13-5
Dlware Tech 002 010 0- 3- 5-3
Hannah Dow (W, 11-5) and Kate Singler. Erin Tingle (L), Mindy Wheatley (3), Kim Owens (5) and Lauren Witzke.
HEARTLAND (35-11) - HR - Jessica Schaefer (solo in 3rd). 3B - Amanda Sartoris. There hits - Sartoris, Sarah Waylock. Two hits - Dow. RBI - Sartoris 2, Schaefer 2, May 2, McKenzie Phillips, Schmidt. Pitching - Dow (7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 3 BB).
DELAWARE TECH (26-11) - Two hits - Brittany Hood. RBI - Owens 2, Chelsea Walls. Pitching - Tingle (2.2 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 K, 5 BB), Wheatley (2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 K, 1 BB), Owens (2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB).
Delaware Tech 5, CCBC Catonsville (Md.) 1
Oakland (Mich.) 4, St. Catherine (Ky.) 2
Lansing (Mich.) 3, Heartland 0
Iowa Lakes (Estherville, Iowa) 8, Kankakee 2
Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) 8, Delaware Tech 0
Johnson County (Kan.) 7, Oakland (Mich.) 2
Game 7 - Phoenix (Ariz.) vs. Lansing (Mich.)
Iowa Lakes (Estherville, Iowa) 11, Sauk Valley (Dixon, Ill.) 3
Game 9 - Heartland 10, Delware Tech 3
Game 10 -Kankakee 10, Oakland (Mich.) 1
Game 11 -CCBC Catonsville (Md.) vs. Loser game 7
Game 12 -St. Catherine (Ky.) vs. Sauk Valley (Dixon, Ill.)
Game 13 - Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) vs. Johnson County (Kan.), field 1, 10 a.m.
Game 14 - Winners of Games 7 vs. Iowa Lakes (Estherville, Iowa, field 3, 10 a.m.
Game 15 - Heartland vs. Kankakee, field 1, noon
Game 16 - Winners of Games 11 and 12, field 3, noon
Game 17 - Winner of Game 15 vs. Loser of Game 13, field 1, noon
Game 18 - Winner of Game 16 vs. Loser of Game 14, field 3, 2 p.m.
Game 19 - Winner of Games 13 and 14, field 1, 4 p.m.
Game 20 - Winner of Games 17 and 18, field 3, 4 p.m.
Game 21 - Winner of Game 20 vs. Loser of Game 19, field 1, 9 a.m.
Game 22 - Winners of Games 19 and 21, field 1, 11 a.m.
Game 23 - Same teams from Game 22, if necessary, field 1, 1 p.m.