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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Winona State fought its way through a gauntlet in the loser’s bracket, winning three-straight games on Saturday to give itself a chance to win the NSIC Softball Tournament, but it fell just short as it lost to Augustana 8-1 in the tournament’s deciding game at the RYFSA Complex in Rochester, Minn.

After defeating St. Cloud State 4-2 and avenging Friday’s loss to MSU Mankato with a 4-0 win, the Warriors advanced to the finals where it needed to beat Augustana twice to claim the conference tourney crown.

They won the first game 1-0, but the Vikings’ bats woke up in the second game.

The Vikings scored five runs in a five-hit second inning. Samantha Eisenreich drove in Shannon Petersen and Maggie Kadrlik with a single. Kara McDougall tripled in Eisenreich and Elliott. And McDougall scored on a groundout by Mary Pardo.

WSU’s Rylee Stout drove in Makenna McCarthy in the sixth inning to avoid the shutout.

In a pitcher’s duel in the first game against Augustana, Carly Kordich hit a walk-off single to drive in K Ahlers and keep the Warriors alive.

Liz Pautz pitched a gem, striking out 10 in a complete game shutout. She allowed six hits and four walks.

The Warriors started their four-game marathon trek to the finals on Saturday by defeating St. Cloud State 4-2.

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Lani Van Zyl hit a two-run home run that scored Kayla Kerkman in the first. Ann Smolenski also doubled in Alison Nowak in the inning.

The Huskies scored both of their runs in the second inning. And Stout added some insurance for WSU in the third as she drove in Nowak to make it 4-2

Jordyn Kleman allowed two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts.

WSU then moved on to face Mankato, the team that sent them into the loser’s bracket by beating them on Friday. But the Warriors got their revenge.

Liz Pautz was lights out in the circle, tossing a complete-game shutout while allowing four hits and striking out eight with no walks.

Katie Kolb scored as Van Zyl reached on an error and Alexis Kelsey singled in Van Zyl in the first. Nowak scored on a Smolenski single in the third. And Kristina Ahlers scored on a Jen Giesey sacrifice fly.

The Warriors find out their destiny for the regional during the NCAA Regional Selection Show at 9 a.m. Monday.

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