Searcy, AR (Harding) - Down by three runs late, No. 6 Minnesota State scored two in the sixth and two in the seventh to defeat No. 2 Harding 7-6, win the NCAA Division II Central Super Regional and advance to the NCAA Division II Softball Championships beginning Thursday in Salem, Virginia.
Minnesota State (59-7) won the opening game of the best-of-three series 1-0 on Thursday. Harding (58-9) responded with a 3-2 victory Friday. The teams began game three Friday, and Harding held a 4-3 after an inning and a half before rains forced the game to be suspended until Sunday.
Harding added to its lead in the third. Autumn Humes led off the inning with a single and scored on Amanda Berdon's infield ground out. The Lady Bisons moved ahead 6-3 on pinch hitter Briley Feringa's RBI single in the fifth.
Minnesota State's comeback began in the sixth with a run-scoring single by Amber Kral and a two-out bloop double by Carly Esselman that scored Ashley Thell.
Thell's RBI single to center in the seventh scored Alyssa Rickels with the tying run and McKenzie Paap came in from third with the go-ahead run when the throw in from center field got away.
Coley Ries (35-4) allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits but earned the win with her 31st complete game. Ries threw all 376 pitches for Minnesota State in the Central Super Regional.
Minnesota State had 14 hits off Harding starter Autumn Humes (33-3), who yielded seven runs (five earned) over 6 1/3 innings. She had six strikeouts to push her single-season school record to 292 in 2017.
Paap and Esselman both had three hits to lead Minnesota State, and Esselman drove in three runs.
Humes and Lawellin had two hits each for Harding, and Berdon and Madi Trump both drove in a pair of runs.