The Hatters entered Saturday's Atlantic Sun Conference Championship knowing they needed to win just one game to take home the title.
By the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless game, all they needed was a single run.
Amanda Grimaldo became the hero, driving in Meredith Owen with the game-winning run as Stetson defeated Mercer 1-0 to capture the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"I am just so happy, so happy for this team," senior Chrissy Morello said. "Meredith kept us through as these games, and everyone worked together. We really wanted this, and I am really glad we were able to push through to get this final one."
The win marked Stetson's fifth conference championship all-time and the first since 2007.
"I am excited for my players, they worked so hard and played so hard this week," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "We got this last game and it was really a good pitcher's duel. It was the seventh inning and both pitchers had only given up two hits. It showed why both teams got here."
The decisive inning started when Mercer (37-19) elected to walk Owen intentionally to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Kayla Drury followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that was mishandled by the third baseman, putting two runners on with no outs. Jessica Griffin then battled through a 12-pitch at-bat before drawing a walk to load the bases, setting the stage for Grimaldo.
"The inning before that, Kayla came up to me and said, 'It's going to come down to a walk-off, I know it," Grimaldo said. "I thought, well, what better way to win. When Jess got that walk, and the bases are loaded, it's the seventh inning, you're the home team and it is a tie ballgame ... I mean, do you want to be up or not? I was blessed to be in that position and come out with a hit."
Grimaldo lined a 1-2 pitch into rightcenter field, just beyond the reach of a diving Taylor Miller. Owen was mobbed by her teammates after touching home plate and the celebration was on.
"That was a clutch hit," Frank Griffin said. "(Amanda) didn't let the pressure get to her and she made it happen."
Owen (26-7) completed a near flawless week in the circle, going 4-0 with a 0.50 ERA to earn tournament MVP honors. She pitched all 28 innings for Stetson, culminating with Saturday's two-hit shutout.
"We have worked hard together from the beginning," Owen said. "It has been about us being together all along. It is so exciting; I can't wait for regionals to see what this team can do."
Owen survived a shaky first inning but struck out Randi Rea with the bases loaded to end the threat.
The Hatters also threatened in the first inning but left runners at second and third. Mercer starter Kirsten Stevens settled down from there, holding Stetson to just one baserunner through the next five innings.
Owen also breezed through the middle innings, retiring eight in a row at one point. She finished with five strikeouts and one walk.
Joining Owen on the all-tournament team were Jessie TenBroeck, Jessica Griffin, Morello and Grimaldo.
Stetson (38-12) will find out its destination for the NCAA Tournament and its opponent for the first round during Sunday night’s selection show on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app for mobile devices. The program begins at 10 p.m. ET.
"It doesn't matter where we go, I am just happy to go and represent the conference and Stetson University," Frank Griffin said. "I think the team will do very well."
Stetson has won conference championships in 1986, 1987, 1988, 2007, and 2014
The Hatters will be making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament
Head coach Frank Griffin has coached 999 games at Stetson (611-388) in 18 seasons
Stetson set the school record for doubles in a season (75)
Chrissy Morello played in her 200th career game
Meredith Owen won her 70th career game (24th shutout)
The Hatters are the first No. 3 seed to win the tournament since 1988 (Stetson)
The last A-Sun Championship to be decided by a (non-run rule) walk-off win was in 2008 (Campbell)
Stetson's last walk-off win in postseason play came on May 13, 2010 vs. Kennesaw State (Jill Semento RBI single)