Wisconsin-Superior started Saturday by finishing off a come-from-behind, extra-innings victory in an elimination game that was suspended on Friday evening due to darkness.
The fifth-seeded Yellowjackets capped Saturday by celebrating a UMAC postseason title and automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament after beating second-seeded Northwestern 5-2 and 4-0 at Kenwood Field in Duluth.
It’s the Yellowjackets' (22-14) fourth postseason conference title and second in the UMAC, after winning in 2016. UW-Superior, which won WIAC titles in 2002 and 2004, will learn Monday who it plays and where in the NCAA tournament.
Having lost to the Eagles on Friday 2-1 in nine innings in the semifinals to fall into the elimination bracket, the Yellowjackets needed to beat Northwestern twice on Saturday. They did so via the arm of freshman right-handed pitcher Tayler Kraemer.
After retiring six of the seven batters she faced in the eighth and ninth innings to beat Bethany Lutheran 6-4 in the elimination game that carried over from Friday, Kraemer gave up two runs — one earned — off three hits with one walk and four strikeouts in seven innings to beat the Eagles in Game 1. Kraemer returned for the winner-take-all Game 2, picking up the complete-game shutout by giving up five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The tournament’s most valuable player after posting a 1.25 ERA in 44.2 innings pitched this week, Kraemer was just as effective at the plate as she was in the circle. She went 3-for-4 in the opener against Northwestern with an RBI double in the sixth inning — one of two doubles she had in the game. In the final, she was 2-for-4 with another double, while scoring twice.
Kraemer finished the elimination game against Bethany Lutheran 2-for-4 with an RBI, driving home her older sister, Kaela, in the top of the ninth inning for the two-run lead. It was Kaela Kraemer, a sophomore shortstop, who drove in the winning run against Bethany Lutheran via a one-out RBI triple to right center. Tayler finished 2-for-4 against Bethany while Kaela went 3-for-5.
The Kraemer sisters from Spring Green, Wisconsin, lead off the batting order for the Yellowjackets with Kaela hitting lead off and Tayler second.
Junior outfielder Olivia Bancroft-Hart batted third on Saturday, and from there sparked the scoring for Superior in the 4-0 win over Northwestern to clinch an NCAA tournament spot. Bancroft-Hart stole second base in the third inning, which led to Tayler Kraemer coming home on a throwing error for a 1-0 lead. Bancroft-Hart later drove home Tayler Kraemer via an RBI triple as part of a three-run fifth-inning.
Sophomore second baseman Tiffany Kirk finished 2-for-4 at the plate in the 5-2 win over Northwestern with an RBI, stolen base and run scored. She opened the suspended game against Bethany Lutheran at 10 a.m. on Saturday with a double but was stranded at third in the eighth. Kirk was walked three times by Bethany, including a final time in the ninth.