ANGOLA, Ind. – The pitching staff combined for a no-hitter as the Trine University softball team picked up a win in their first game of the 2023 NCAA Division III Softball Championship. The offense came up with seven runs to secure the shutout victory over visiting Waynesburg (Pa.) University.

Debbie Hill made the start for the Thunder, her first NCAA tournament action. Only one batter reached base in the first inning, on an error caused by a near collision between infielders. There were a few nerves on display for the freshman in the early stages of the game, with a passed ball allowing that runner to advance to second, along with a walked batter in the second inning. Nothing further came of either baserunner.

“Probably around the third inning is when my heart rate finally went down a bit,” said Hill following the game, “I was a bit jumpy to start, but having the offense help me out let me breath and settle in.”

The offensive help came early and often, starting in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs on the board, the team had runners on second and third, bringing senior Amanda Prather to the plate. She wasted little time returning to postseason form with a sharply hit single to right field bringing in a both her teammates.

“Postseason Prather is back!” exclaimed head coach Don Danklefsen in the postgame press conference.

“With runners in scoring position it’s my job to get the ball in play,” Prather explained, “I just wanted to get my hands to that ball and get it through the infield.”

The team then showed off some small ball in the bottom of the second. Freshman Ashleigh Tranter drew a walk to start the inning before moving to second on a sacrifice but and third on a fielding mistake by the opposing shortstop. Graduate student Cassie Woods brought in the run on a ground out in the next at-bat.  

With Hill’s nerves settled, she went on to retire nine straight batters in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

After a scoreless third, Trine added more to their lead in the fourth. Sophomore Emma Beyer reached first by legging out a grounder to the shortstop and then made it home on a double from senior Ellie Trine. A few batters later, senior Anna Gill executed a squeeze bunt to bring Ellie Trine home and give the team a 5-0 lead.

The fifth started with Hill earning a walk, before giving way to junior Emily Wheaton at first base. The speedster promptly recorded her 19th stolen base of the season. Prather then moved her to third with another single, before advancing to second on some savvy base running. Freshman Reese Ruvalcaba brought in the first run of the inning and passed ball scored the second building the team’s lead to 7-0.

Junior Alexis Michon entered the game in the top of the sixth and finished out the no-hitter with two quick innings of work. Hill allowed just the one walk while striking out seven in her five innings with Michon getting one strikeout of her own. The pair combined for the 17th no-hitter in program history, the first that will be shared by more than one pitcher.

“The biggest thing is that Debbie goes five innings scoreless and there isn’t and ounce of being upset when we made the decision to pull her. All the pitchers understand that we are going to do it together,” Danklefsen continued, “We’ve been saying all year long if we can keep them fresh and the arm’s loose that we will have a huge advantage in postseason.”

Trine improves to 36-4 following the shutout win. They advance to face Wartburg College in the winners’ side of the regional bracket. Their next game is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, May 19.

The entire schedule for the second day of the regional has been moved up two hours, due to forecasted weather. For the complete schedule, post-game interviews and links to live stats and video visit the tournament webpage.

Winner at noon on Friday, loser at 2:30 p.m. Friday.