Long balls from Steele, VanVleet keep Storm alive in Bloomington Regional

Long balls from Steele, VanVleet keep Storm alive in Bloomington Regional

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Abbie VanVleet and Britney Steele homered, Maggie Long threw three-plus innings of one-hit ball and Simpson staved off elimination with an 8-1 win over Anderson at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship on Saturday.

The second-seeded Storm (31-11) started the day with a 2-1, walk-off loss to fourth-seeded Alma. The win over Anderson kept Simpson alive and sets up a rematch with the Scots in Sunday's first championship game. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

The Scots (27-15) are 2-0 on the weekend, beating the top seeds in the region in Simpson and Illinois Wesleyan. Simpson needs two wins Sunday to advance to Super Regional play.

Tournament Central

VanVleet went 2-for-4 and collected four RBIs against Anderson, breaking a scoreless tie with a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning.

Simpson went on to score four in the inning and tacked on four more in the fifth, when VanVleet got the scoring started with a RBI double. Steele followed with a three-run shot to left that made it 8-1.

Sparsely-used throughout the season, Long was nearly untouchable in relief of Riley Fisher. The freshman surrendered just one hit in 3 2/3 innings, striking out three without a walk to move to 3-0 on the year.

Taylor Kelso drove in the only run of the game for the Ravens (31-11), who lost to Simpson 9-3 in the first game of the regional on Friday.

A bases-loaded hit-by-pitch was the only run Simpson could muster against Alma's Morgan Stratton in a 2-1, walk-off loss to start the day.

Anna Coture brought in the winning run on in infield single in the bottom of the seventh to move Alma to Sunday's first championship game with a perfect 2-0 record. Stratton wasn't charged with an earned run and gave up just three hits with eight strikeouts.

Steele brought in Simpson's run when she got plunked with one out and the bases loaded in the fourth. VanVleet and Taylor Davis went down on strikes, stranding three on the basepaths.