QUINCY, Ill. — Beth Onestinghel is quiet and reserved, but she was moved to tears Thursday after learning she had been left off the NCAA Division II All-America softball team.
Friday, she responded by letting her play do the talking.
Onestinghel was 2 for 3 with 2 runs batted in as top-ranked Cal State Northridge defeated Mankato State, Minn., 3-0, in the opening game of the NCAA Division II championship tournament.
The RBIs gave her a school-record 38 for the season, but Onestinghel said afterward that records and postseason honors are a distant second on her priorities list.
"A national championship is the big award and that's what is most important," she said.
The junior from Louisville High was left off the All-America team because of an NCAA rule that limits each school to a maximum of five nominations. Northridge had four players on the first team and one on the second.
"Everyone wants to be an All-American," she said. "I was upset because I thought I played well this year, but I can't do anything about it now."
Except maybe prove that her exclusion was an oversight.
Onestinghel worked quickly to establish her case, lashing a double down the left-field line in the first inning to easily score Barbara Jordan from second base.
Give Jordan an assist on the play. She was standing on second base waving her arms frantically toward the third-base line to let the left-handed-hitting Onestinghel know that the catcher had called for an outside pitch. "I was ready for it," said Onestinghel, who is batting .367.
That would be the only run pitcher Debbie Dickman would need. The freshman from Newbury Park High scattered four hits in completing her 16th shutout of the season on what she said was an "off" day.
"I threw good enough to win, but not great," Dickman said. "I had no emotion going at all. Usually I have anger or some kind of emotion I can channel, but not today. It was a shutout, but I can do much better."
Dickman (22-3) struck out only one but stranded all five Mankato runners.
"We both had runners in scoring position," Mankato Coach Lori Meyer said. "The difference was, they converted almost all of their chances. When you give a pitcher of Dickman's caliber a lead right away, it makes her tougher."
Mankato (48-9-2) had four runners advance as far as second base, with its biggest threat coming in the fifth inning when Brenda Brakel and Michelle Garrity led off with consecutive singles.
After Dickman induced Stacey Pederson to pop up to catcher Reggie Lyons, second baseman Kim Bernstein made a nice play to throw out Patti Otremba on a sharply hit grounder headed for right field. Both runners advanced on the play, but Northridge got out of the inning when shortstop Lori Shelly made an over-the-shoulder catch of a soft liner hit into shallow left field by Lori Spratt.
All of Northridge's runs were scored by Jordan, the Lady Matadors' leadoff hitter.
She slapped a single just over Otremba's glove at second base in the first inning, bounced a single to center in the third, and reached base on a fielder's choice in the fifth.
In the third, she took second on an infield out and scored on a two-out single to left-center by Kelly Winn. In the fifth, she stole second and scored on a single to right by Onestinghel. The throw from outfielder Nancy Kelly actually beat Jordan home, but when Brakel, the catcher, whirled to tag her, she got nothing but air. Jordan slid wide and kept her arms tucked until the last second when she neatly slipped her hand under the catcher's glove just in time to swipe the corner of the plate.
"You have to keep Jordan off the bases to beat Northridge," Meyer said, shaking her head. "We knew that, but we couldn't do it."
Jordan passed on the credit. "I was just standing out on second base," she said. "Beth and Kelly are the ones who did the work.
"Beth is going to have a great tournament. I can feel it."
Dickman said that would be nothing new. "Beth didn't prove anything today," she said. "She doesn't have to. She just played her game. She played like Beth--like an All-American. To us, she is one."
Said Torgeson: "She got the shaft. She's an All-American in our minds and today she proved it."
Northridge (56-7) will play Florida Southern at 11:30 a.m. today. Florida Southern (48-4) defeated Sacred Heart, 1-0, in Friday's other first-round game.
Delanee Anderson (15-3) will start against Florida Southern, which has eight players batting .336 or better.
Torgeson is confident.
"I have a lot of respect for Mankato," he said. "I felt coming in they might be the best hitting team we'd see. This was a big win for us. Now we'd have to lose a doubleheader tomorrow not to make it to the championship game."