No. 5 Midwestern State faced a familiar circumstance needing two wins to clinch the program's first World Series berth Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Division II South Central Super Regionals at Mustangs Park.
When push came to shove, nine consecutive hitters reached as the Mustangs KO'd West Texas A&M with solo homers from Courtney Bingham and Kim Jerrick and a grand slam by Mallory Mooney as part of an eight-run seventh inning uprising as MSU rocked the Lady Buffs 11-2 in the Game 3 championship clincher.
"This team has a flare for the dramatic," MSU coach Brady Tigert said. "We just needed to relax a little bet and go out and play ball. That spilled over into every facet of the game. They went out there and got it done."
The Mustangs cashed in on three walks issued by West Texas A&M starter Shelbey Cockrell take a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning off of an RBI single by Amanda Potysman and a two-run Bingham double down the right-field line.
But West Texas A&M clawed its way back into the contest courtesy of a Mustangs' miscue to plate two runs on a Meghan Brown run-scoring single to right field and a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"We had one little miscue and two little flares and it looked like it was starting to get away from us," Tigert.
The Mustangs just weren't going to let that happen.
Bingham drilled a 1-2 pitch over the right field fence to give Midwestern a little breathing room to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
Then the dam broke on Cockrell, who fell to 24-9 on the season allowing 11 runs - 10 earned - on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.
McKenzie Sickler lofted a single to right field, Nicki Duff reached on an error and Elena Bennett battled for a walk to load the bases for Mooney.
"I kinda took a weak swing at the first pitch," Mooney said after fouling off Cockrell's first offering. "So the next pitch came and I swung as hard as I could and there it went."
There it went over the left field fence and on the soccer field some 250 feet away from home plate for her second career grand slam to push the MSU advantage to 8-2.
"Cockrell had been struggling with her command or the zone was tight either one," Tigert said. "She definitely got a little too much of the plate and Mallory took care of it."
The Mustangs tacked on three more runs highlighted by another RBI single by Potysman before Jerrick crushed a solo shot to center field.
"This team has been resilient the last two years," Tigert said. "It doesn't matter even when we're a little frustrated; we find a way to fight back. We didn't always come back from all of them, but there was no way this team was going to back down or lay over. They know how to fight and they know how to win."
Senior ace Brittney Tanner, who was 2-for-3 with two runs at the plate, improved to the 30-8 on the season by limiting West Texas A&M to two unearned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
"This has been a dream for me since I was a little girl," Tanner said.
Senior utility player Amanda Potysman, who was 3-for-6 with four RBIs over two games Saturday, added more.
"It's just our turn," she said. "I know we're going to have a great time in Virginia and we're just going to keep playing this way."
Midwestern State opens the 2011 NCAA Division II World Series against top-ranked Alabama-Huntsville Thursday night at the Moyer Complex in Salem, VA. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. (Central Time).
The fifth ranked Midwestern State Mustangs forced a third game in the NCAA Division II South Central Super Regional with an 8-2 victory over 12th ranked West Texas A&M Saturday at Mustangs Park.