While they may be hosting this year’s Southern Conference softball tournament, the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles will spend the rest of the weekend watching from the stands as they were eliminated by Appalachian State in an nine-inning, 4-2 defeat Thursday afternoon at Eagle Field.
“Things just didn’t quite work out for us,” said GSU coach Maggie Johnson. “We played a good game today, but Appalachian was just as good. In the end, we just made one more mistake than them and they took advantage.”
Despite the loss, GSU’s Allie Miles — who was named SoCon Freshman of the Year earlier in the week — was fantastic on the mound, tossing all nine innings and tying her career high with 15 strikeouts.
The one Mountaineer that Miles couldn’t solve was Allie Cashion, who went 3-for-4 on the day and drove in all of Appalachian’s runs, including the go-ahead two-run single in the ninth inning.
But even in defeat, Johnson realized the effort made by her star freshman.
“Allie was great for us today,” said Johnson. “She battles and fights out there as much as anyone I’ve ever seen. Even when she got into some jams, she was able to bear down and get some big strikeouts.”
Just a bit better than Miles on the day was ASU’s Hannah Dow, who also went the distance, allowing just six Eagle hits in earning the win and keeping the Mountaineers alive in the tournament.
“(Dow) adjusted to us more than we adjusted to her,” said Johnson. “She kept our offense off balance and pitched a great game.”
The pitcher’s duel didn’t start off in quite that fashion as both teams scored twice in the first inning.
Cashion launched a two-out, two-run home run over the wall in left in the top of the first before GSU’s Megan Smith answered with a two-run homer of her own to tie it up in the bottom half.
From there, both pitchers were nearly untouchable.
The Mountaineers threatened in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but Miles was able to escape trouble in each case, stranding a total of eight ASU runners in the three-inning span.
Appalachian finally broke through in the ninth when Katie Boyd drew a leadoff walk and Megan Rembielak sacrificed her to second. A grounder off the bat of Meghan Smith was bobbled by Hannah Ennis, allowing Boyd to advance to second.
Smith stole second on the next pitch before Cashion delivered the game-winning RBI’s.
With the win, Appalachian advances to play Elon tomorrow at 10 a.m.
After today’s games, just three teams will remain in contention for the tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
Charleston 4, Furman 2 (8 innings)
Furman became the first team to be eliminated from the SoCon tournament as the Lady Paladins dropped their loser’s bracket game to the College of Charleston, 4-2 in eight innings in Thursday’s first game.
After rallying to send the game to extra innings, Furman saw its season end in the eighth as Charleston’s Katie Pesature bounced a two-run home run off the top of the left field wall to give the Cougars the winning margin.
Pesature also put the Cougars ahead early with an RBI single in the top of the first, but Furman drew even in the fourth inning as Jesse Homesly cleared the left field wall for a solo home run.
Charleston pushed ahead once more in the seventh when Katie Nataitis reached on a Furman error. Ashton Jarrett pinch-ran for Nataitis and advanced to third — stealing second and moving forward on a groundout —before scoring on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead.
Fighting to save its season, Furman tied it up in the bottom of the seventh. Morgan Hughey reached on an error and Lauren Collier — pinch running for Hughey — advanced to third on another Charleston miscue. Alex Bimonte then laced a single to bring home Collier and send the game to extra innings.
The Cougars will play Samford today at noon in another elimination game.
Chattanooga 7, Elon 1
Chattanooga showed exactly why it entered the Southern Conference tournament as the top seed as the Lady Mocs made short work of No. 5 seed Elon, cruising to a 7-1 victory Thursday afternoon and earning themselves a spot in the winner’s bracket final today.
After Lady Phoenix starter Erin O’Shea allowed just one run through the first four innings, Chattanooga exploded for five runs in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach.
The Mocs loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning, but O’Shea minimized the damage, allowing only a Sara Poteat RBI single for a 1-0 UTC lead.
Carleigh Nester pulled Elon even in the fourth inning with a solo shot to left field, but the Mocs took the lead for good in the next frame.
After the first two Chattanooga batters of the inning reached, Michelle Fuzzard cleared the bases with a two-run double. Kasey Tydingco notched an RBI groundout to make it a 4-1 lead before Della Harrison capped the rally with a two-run home run to left.
Chattanooga added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by Fuzzard, but it was of little consequence as Mocs pitcher Nikki Waters breezed to a two-hit, five strikeout performance in collecting the complete game win.
UNC Greensboro 4, Samford 1
UNC Greensboro capped tournament play Thursday with a 4-1 win over Samford.
Alex Emetaro gave the Lady Spartans a lead they never surrendered in the top of the first inning with an RBI single that scored April Langley.
Langley laid down a two-out squeeze bunt to score Ashley Reetz in the sixth, giving UNCG starter Cory Mattson enough cushion for the win.
Samford scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth when Amanda Jordan tagged Mattson for a solo shot.
The Spartans immediately responded as Katelyn Bedwell lined a two-run triple to the fence to cap the scoring.
Raeanne Hanks relieved Mattson in the bottom of the seventh and retired the Samford side to earn the save.
UNCG advances to today’s winner’s bracket championship to play Chattanooga. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday’s tournament championship.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.
2011 SoCon Tournament
(4) College of Charleston 4, (8) Furman 2
(8 innings, Furman eliminated)
(2) Appalachian State 4, (3) Georgia Southern 2
(9 innings, Georgia Southern eliminated)
(1) Chattanooga 7, (5) Elon 1
(6) UNC Greensboro 4, (4) Samford 1
(5) Elon vs. (2) Appalachian State (Loser eliminated)
(4) College of Charleston vs. Samford (Loser eliminated)
(1) Chattanooga vs. UNC Greensboro
Elon/ASU vs. CofC/Samford (Loser Eliminated)