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Eagles fight to championship game, fall to Furman

    GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Georgia Southern softball team forced a deciding game, but Furman’s Amber Kiser hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to give the Lady Paladins the 2007 Southern Conference Tournament Championship 3-2.
    The Eagles’ season ends at 29-32. They were attempting a second straight tournament title, and won five straight after dropping their opener to Western Carolina. They forced the ‘if necessary’ game by defeating Furman 4-1.
     “I’m very proud of them,” said GSU head coach Natalie Poole, “I thought they did a great job, especially after losing their first game because they could have been really discouraged. They believed they could do it, I knew they could do it, but they knew it would be hard. The efforts were tremendous; the teamwork was tremendous, from the seniors down to the freshmen. I’ll never be dissatisfied with what we’ve done today and in this tournament. It’s just discouraging that we lost.”
    Furman was able to answer each time Georgia Southern took the lead. In the fourth, GSU broke the scoreless deadlock when junior Aubrey Thweatt came home after a pickoff attempt went into the leftfield corner. Megan Jaudon’s sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning tied it at 1-1.
    Senior Maria Laurato led off the first extra frame with a solo homer, but Kiser tripled with one out in the Furman half of the eighth and scored on a sacrifice fly from Abby Robertson. Back-to-back walks put runners on first and second, but Melissa Laliberte escaped further damage by inducing a groundout.
    Before the ninth got started, the game was delayed 88 minutes due to rain. After resuming play, the Eagles went down in order.
    Kiser’s tournament-winning hit came after walks to Danielle Franklin and Blake Murray. Kiser hit a 3-2, two-out pitch down the leftfield line and skidded on the wet grass past Elizabeth Branan.
    Lana Mackey went the distance for Furman, allowing five hits and one earned run. Laliberte pitched the first eight innings and gave up three hits while striking out eight. Logan Free took the loss (10-14).

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