Hickory, N.C. – The Mars Hill College Softball Team (29-17) broke open a 2-2 contest with five runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Armstrong Atlantic State University (33-20) by a 7-4 score Saturday afternoon at Bears Field in the 2010 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. Mars Hill will take on Augusta State University at 7:30 p.m., Saturday evening.
Mars Hill took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. After Taylor Morris (Weddington, N.C.) drew a one-out walk she was bunted over to second base and scored two batters later on a throwing error by the third baseman.
AASU tied the contest in the bottom of the third frame. With April Jowers (Columbus, Ga.) on third base with one out, Bailie Temples (Midland, Ga.) singled to centerfield scoring Jowers to knot the game at one.
The Lady Lions retook the lead in the top of the fifth. With two outs and runners on second and third, Anna James (Bellevue, Wash.) singled to left field, scoring Ashley Angell (Winston-Salem, N.C.) from third base.
Armstrong Atlantic scored the equalizing run in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third, Ashley Buckett (Snellville, Ga.) hit a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Shelby Duff (Springfield, Ga.) from third base.
Mars Hill broke the game open in the top of the seventh, scoring five two-out runs to take a 7-2 lead into the final half inning of play. The Lady Lions pounded out four hits and took advantage of three walks and one Pirate error in the frame.
AASU got two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to close the gap to 7-4. The Pirates got three hits on the inning including a two –run double by Duff, but could not overcome the five-run deficit.
Mars Hill’s Tara West (Urbana, Ohio) picked up the win in the circle, moving to 15-8 on the year. She scattered 10 hits and four runs over seven innings while striking out three. Megan Barnwell (Brooklet, Ga.) fell to 15-9 as the Pirates ended their season.
Mars Hill Head Coach David Williams:
“In the seventh inning we were very patient and made them come to us. They actually walked in a few runs. We had good at bats including some full-count at bats and wound up getting some base hits from it and keeping it going. I was really pleased at our approach at the plate which led to us scoring the runs and winning the game.”
(on keeping the game tight):
“Tara West threw a really good game. Her effective pitching and the solid defense helped throughout the game. Any time you can hold yourself up and are tied you have a chance and our pitching and defense helped us to do that until we got our breakout inning in the seventh.”
Armstrong Atlantic State Head Coach Ted Evans:
“It was just a tight-played game. We struggled to get any kind of offense. Unfortunately for us we don’t hit as well against pitchers that have more movement than they do speed. Crafty pitchers give us trouble and she did a good job today. We’ve had some struggles pitching and when it came down there at the end it just really showed. We could have done some things better all the way around.”
(on the team’s mindset after tying the game in the bottom of the sixth inning):
“I think the mentality was that we were going to get them. We’ve had a really good hitting team this year and have been one of the best in the Peach Belt. We led the league in defense and a lot of offensive categories, so once we got back in the game we thought we had it.”
Freshman right fielder Shelby Duff (on the season as a whole):
“I thought we had a very good season. It was tough to end on that one we would have liked to keep it going a little longer. We had a young team with just one senior this year so we grew a lot and will be ready next season.”