Mansfield ? No NCAA Division III softball tournament regional would be official anymore without the requisite illegal pitch called on Coast Guard Academy senior All-American Hayley Feindel.
And so it was again Saturday, with runners on second and third and two outs, during a scoreless game, helping Tufts to an eventual 3-0 win in the winners' bracket final.
Fifth-seeded Coast Guard (28-18) will play at noon today against top-seeded Eastern Connecticut for the right to face unbeaten Tufts again. The Coast Guard/Eastern winner would need to defeat Tufts later Sunday and then Monday to advance to the Division III College World Series in Salem, Va.
Feindel, the NCAA Division III career wins (124) and strikeouts (1,454) leader, was called for a "leap," (foot leaving contact with the pitching rubber), allowing Tufts' Sara Hedtler to score. Feindel nearly escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam.
"A leap 38 pitches into the game," Coast Guard coach Donna Koczajowski said. "The umpire (Tom Boston) said to me, 'I'll be looking for that pitch all game when a runner gets to third base.' ? I shake my head."
NCAA representatives did not allow media members to speak with Boston after the game.
Feindel was called for 60 illegal pitches during the 2010 tournament and 35 in 2011. Before this season, however, Koczajowski saw a memo to umpires that read, "(Feindel) was not illegal, never was illegal and stop calling illegal pitches on her."
Feindel was called for three illegal pitches this season among the 3,258 she threw entering the tournament.
"I'm a little astonished," Koczajowski said. "Tufts is the fastest team in the tournament and the umpire seemed to be more focused on my pitcher than their runners."
Feindel (21-9) allowed nine hits and three earned runs while striking out five.
"It was different than what they called last year," Feindel said. "No big deal. I can fix that."
Tufts (39-5, ranked No. 9 in the country) had a 1-0 lead two outs into the sixth when catcher Jo Clair hit a solo home run to make it 2-0. Kris Parr followed with an RBI single three batters later.
"I'm a senior. I should be better than that," Feindel said.
The Bears couldn't solve Tufts freshman Allyson Fournier, who allowed four hits and struck out eight. Their best chance to score came in the fourth with Jess Richardson at first base and two outs. Freshman Chloe Harmon hit a line drive for which second baseman Emily Beineike jumped, knocked down and ultimately made the play. Had Beineike's leap been timed incorrectly, Harmon's ball might have made the gap in right center field.
Coast Guard has emerged from the losers' bracket to win the last two New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference championships.
• Eastern won a pair of elimination games, beating No. 3 Rochester 6-1 in the morning and No. 4 Ithaca 6-0 in the final game of the day. Molly Rathbun (32-2) was the winning pitcher in both games while Waterford's Mattie Brett staked the Warriors (43-2) to a 2-0 lead in the first with an RBI double and Mystic's Arielle Cooper later added a solo home run and RBI single.