Bekah Yenrick, Rockets have magical run to NCAA

J. Patrick Eaken

University of Toledo sophomore outfielder Bekah Yenrick (Clay) is a key element to the Rockets’ softball that has earned a bid to the NCAA Division I tournament.
Toledo (29-26) faced No. 14 seed Kentucky (33-22) Friday in Lexington, Ky. in first-round regional action. The Rockets are bracketed alongside Virginia Tech (45-9) and Illinois (32-23), and are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1992.
"We were pretty sure it would be Kentucky so it didn't surprise me," Toledo coach Joe Abraham said. "They're a good SEC team so it's obviously going to be very difficult, but we played Florida State close so anything can happen. All of those teams have good pitchers so the key for us is good solid pitching and to make all of the plays. Any game is winnable for us. Yeah we're an underdog, but not so much of an underdog that we can't win games."
"This is just exciting," senior second base Megan Choate said. "We just won the MAC and I think the team isn't really over that. Being in the room tonight you could just feel the vibe and it was really exciting. Knowing that I get to play a few more games with this team moved me to tears. I've been thinking about it a lot but now we have at least two more games. It's just exciting being able to put the uniform on and play with the girls a little bit more."
Yenrick has started in 50 games and played in 53, batting .252 (30 for 119) with 14 runs, eight doubles, one home run, 25 RBIs, a .345 slugging percentage and .401 on base percentage, plus she has not made an error all season.
As a freshman, she appeared in 45 games, started 35 and hit .271 with 96 at-bats, nine runs, 26 hits, five doubles, three home runs, 21 RBIs and slugged .417. She had one stretch where she reached base in eight straight games and recorded six RBIs against Ball State on May 5, tying for the most RBIs in a single game in UT history.
Yenrick was a four-year letter winner at Clay, Earning second-team all-state as a senior and honorable mention all-state honors in 2016. She was a three-time all-district and four-time first-team All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference selection.
Yenrick led the Eagles in doubles, RBIs, walks, batting average and fielding percentage as a junior and is the single season school record holder in home runs, doubles, RBIs and fielding percentage. She is the career record holder in RBIs, home runs and batting average at Clay.
        “I am very excited that Bekah will get the chance to play in the NCAA softball tournament,” said Clay coach Brenda Radabaugh. “This is an amazing opportunity for her and the University of Toledo softball team. I am proud of Bekah for her accomplishments on the softball field and in the classroom. She is a hard-working player who deserves her moment in the spotlight.” 
Bekah is the daughter of Robert and Holly Yenrick and is majoring in exercise science at UT.
The Rockets are coming off the Mid-American Conference Tournament where they won the first tourney title in program history after going on a five-game tear in the loser's bracket as the No. 7 seed, taking down No. 4 Northern Illinois, No. 2 Kent State, No. 1 Miami and No. 3 Ohio. Toledo most recently won the MAC regular-season title in 1992, but this was the first MAC Tournament crown for the program.
The NCAA Regionals are played in a double-elimination format, meaning it takes two losses to be eliminated from the tournament. The winner of the Toledo-Kentucky game will play the winner of the Illinois-Virginia Tech game on Saturday at noon. The first-round losers will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The champion will be determined by one or two games on Sunday.
Toledo was the lowest seeded team in MAC Tournament history to win the title.
"I'm in a state of disbelief that we got it done," Abraham said. "It was a team effort, especially with pitching from Kailey (Minarchik) and Leah (Allison) that saved Erin (Hunt) some innings of work.
Erin was clutch for us, and all of the clutch hitting, clutch defensive plays and a big out from Sam (Golden) in the sixth inning of the final game made this just an unbelievable team effort. We have a bunch of battlers. Literally one week ago we were fighting to get into the tournament. It was such a good feeling to beat Central Michigan and make it in. One week later, here we are the MAC Champions and I literally can't believe it."
Toledo claimed the title in dramatic fashion, rallying from a five-run deficit to defeat Ohio, 6-5, in today's second game to set up a winner-take-all battle with the Bobcats. That game was no contest, with the Rockets demolishing Ohio, 9-2.
The Rockets began the tournament with a 4-2 win over No. 2 seed Kent State on Thursday before falling 7-1 to the Bobcats on Friday. Fighting through the loser's bracket in the double elimination-style tournament, the Rockets had to defeat each of the top four seeds to come out on top. All together, Toledo outscored the competition 33-14 in its last five games.
The Rockets were led in the circle this week by Hunt, a sophomore who tossed 37.1 innings with four complete games, striking out 28 batters over the four days. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Tournament team and she was also named the Tournaments' Most Valuable Player.
Hunt was joined on the All-Tournament team by seniors Katie Cozy and Kaitlyn Bergman who were offense standouts all week. Bergman went 6-for-20 with four runs, six walks, two homers, and seven RBIs while catching every game for the Rockets. Cozy went 5-for-21 with five runs, three RBIs, two homers and four walks. (— from UT press releases)


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