The Wichita State softball team will play in its first NCAA Regional final in program history after defeating Oklahoma State, 5-4, for the fourth time this season and second time in two days on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
Madison Perrigan's two-run home run in the fifth inning was her second of the game and the go-ahead shot and eventual game-winner for the Shockers in an elimination game. The day began with a 5-0 loss to No. 13 Arkansas in a meeting of Friday's two winners.
Now Wichita State will play Arkansas again on Sunday in a must-win game at 1:30 p.m. in order to force a winner-take-all game at 4 p.m. for a chance to advance to a Super Regional.
Perrigan was the hero against Oklahoma State, as she finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored and four runs driven in. It was her second home run that rescued WSU after it fell behind 4-3 when Oklahoma State scored four runs in the fourth inning.
The fifth inning started off promisingly, as Mackenzie Wright led off the bottom half with a walk for the Shockers. She advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Bailey Lange, then scored when Perrigan drilled a deep shot over the left-field fence.
Lange would finish out the game in the circle for WSU, throwing her 21st complete game of the season to earn her 20th win. Lange gave up 10 hits and walked six hitters, but was able to strand runners when needed.
That was the case in the seventh inning when Oklahoma State loaded the bases, only for Lange to escape from the pressure-packed situation by forcing a pop-up to shortstop Laurie Derrico.
The defense produced several highlight-reel plays, as Asea Webber showed off her range in center field with two improbable catches against Arkansas, then Wright had a jaw-dropping snag at third base against Oklahoma State to rob a hit.
Against Arkansas in the first game of the day, WSU and the Razorbacks were locked into a pitcher's duel between Lange and Arkansas' ace Mary Haff. Both pitchers kept the other team scoreless through four innings, but Arkansas took a 2-0 lead when Autumn Buczek hit a solo home run and Hannah McEwen delivered an RBI groundout.
That was all that Haff needed, as the Shockers' offense was shut down to just one hit in the game. Arkansas tacked on three runs in the seventh inning to finish off the game.
WSU was 1-6 all-time in NCAA Regional games before winning two of three so far in Arkansas this weekend.