It was like déjà vu all over again, with a couple of slight twists, Sunday afternoon at the EastSide Centre softball complex in Peoria, Ill., which happens to be the annual home of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship Tournament.
Last year, it took the combined brilliance of pitchers Hannah Perryman and Brittni Chapman, and a walkoff home run by slugging second baseman Katie Wood, to lead the University of Missouri-St. Louis women’s softball team to an eight-inning championship-clinching victory over Lewis University.
This year, Wood once again blasted a two-run bomb to provide the offensive punch and Perryman handled all the pitching duties herself, as she tossed the second no-hitter of her incredible college career to lead UMSL to a 3-0 win over Bellarmine University in the GLVC Championship Game, giving the Tritons their second straight league title and third overall in program history.
UMSL, which came into the tournament ranked No. 11 in the country, won all four of the games it played at the 2014 GLVC Tournament, dispatching Illinois-Springfield (1-0) and Truman State (5-0) on Friday, before earning a championship round berth on Saturday by defeating Bellarmine 3-2.
The Knights, who had upset top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Indianapolis on Friday, beat the top-ranked team in the region again on Saturday to earn a trip to Sunday’s championship game.
But the Tritons, and especially Perryman, were just too much, as UMSL’s sophomore pitching ace mowed down Bellarmine with relative ease the entire day.
In fact, Bellarmine’s only real scoring chance came in the sixth inning, when the Knights loaded the bases with nobody out and had its best three hitters coming to the plate.
But the lefty from Streamwood, Ill., refused to be scored upon, and struck out the next two batters, then got the final out on a popup to the catcher to slam the door on any comeback hopes Bellarmine might have had.
The UMSL offense gave Perryman all the runs she would need in the second inning, when sophomore designated player Katie Schultz delivered a two-out RBI single to left that scored teammate Ashleigh King and gave the Tritons a 1-0 lead.
The two biggest hits of the game came in the next inning, when junior first baseman Brianna Butler doubled with one out, then came in to score on the ninth home run of the season by Wood, a player who continues to prove herself clutch in big moments after homering in the GLVC Championship Game for the second straight year.
It wasn’t a walkoff job this time though. But it was a no-doubter that gave UMSL what proved to be an insurmountable 3-0 edge over Bellarmine.
From there, Perryman handled the rest – finishing her day with another complete game win, which raised her personal season record to 25-5, a mark that is currently tied for the most wins by any UMSL pitcher in a single season.
The victory also earned UMSL (45-6) an automatic berth into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, which will begin with regionals next weekend.
The Tritons will find out officially who they will face in the regional tournament Monday morning, when the NCAA Division II National Softball Tournament Selection Show will air live on NCAA.com.
UMSL, which was ranked No. 2 in the Midwest Region heading into the GLVC Tournament and could move as high as No. 1 when the new rankings come out Monday morning, is hoping to be selected as one of the host school’s for the NCAA Regionals.
Typically, the top two schools in each region are picked to host the regional tournaments, so the Tritons feel good about their chances to be home for the first round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.