Monday, May 11, 2009

Lady Hawks take home SSAC Softball Championship, beat Lee 6-2

It took five games and four days to do it, but the Shorter College Lady Hawks softball team can now call themselves the conference champions. On Saturday night, following a three-hour rain delay, the Lady Hawks beat the Lee University Lady Flames, 6-2, to be crowned champs and receive the automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship beginning May 14.

This is the second straight year that the Lady Hawks have won the conference championship. Shorter entered into the tournament as the No. 3 seed, and beat No. 1 Brenau in the winner's bracket championship, and had to face No. 2 seed Lee three times.

"Just like any other tournament, you have to stay in the winner's bracket to have the best chance in the championship," said head coach Melanie Carter. "We really hit when we needed to, and our bats were the difference for us."

"It was do or die this weekend for us," said four-year senior Kali Milford, who played third base for the Lady Hawks in all five tournament games. "We knew our two choices were to win and make it to Nationals, or to go home in tears - and I'm glad to get the win."

The Lady Hawks wasted no time in proving their strength in the championship game, scoring two runs to open the first inning. Dandi Ammons hit an RBI single to shallow right-center field to score Amanda Albertson, and Amanda Rogers was walked to score Libby Munson.

Shorter doubled their lead in the third inning. Hannah Strength hit a fielder's choice to score Munson, an Elisabeth Barber scored the fourth run of the game on a error from Lee.

After Lee scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run from Caitlin Haley, the Lady Hawks added two insurance runs in the sixth inning. Ammons doubled to score Tiffany Adams, and an RBI single from Barber finished the game in Shorter's favor 6-1.

Munson (21-5), who was also named the Tournament MVP, was the winning pitcher in the game, pitched seven innings for six hits, two earned runs, and three walks while striking out six. Lee's Brittany Rowe (3-2) got the loss.

"After the rain delay, coach told me to make sure I was ready to end it," said Munson. "My adrenaline was going and I knew we weren't going to let them win."

Shorter now waits for the official word from the NAIA to see the championship field for the National Championship, and the eventual pool placement in their third straight trip to Decatur, Ala.

"If we keep playing the way we did this weekend, I know we will be a contender at Nationals," added Munson.

"We look to prove that we belong there," added head coach Carter. "This is the first time in three years that we haven't been waiting for an at-large spot. We played as a team and really came together these past few days, and we're looking forward to doing it again at Nationals."

Ammons was the hitting leader for Shorter in the championship game, going 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs, while Barber was 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI.

In the first game, Lee forced the final, if-needed game with a 5-4 victory over the Lady Hawks.

The Lady Flames got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning with a one-run sacrifice fly to left field.

In the fourth inning, Shorter tied it up with an Amanda Rogers solo home run, and took the lead in the next inning with an RBI single from Libby Munson scoring Tiffany Adams to make it 2-1.

Lee then scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, which proved too much for the Lady Hawks to recover from. Two runs from Shorter in the top of the sixth inning ended the game 5-4.

Amanda Albertson was 2-for-4 in the game and Adams was 2-for-2 with a triple and a run.

Munson picked up the loss in relief, going two inning for five hits, three earned runs and a strikeout, while Lee's Caitlin Beshears (6-2) got the win.

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