Date: May 18, 2016
Scores: (10) Martin Methodist College 0, (RV) Williams Baptist College 2
Records: (10) Martin Methodist College (47-16), (RV) Williams Baptist College (38-19)
Location: LSU-A Generals Field - Alexandria, La.
The (RV) Williams Baptist College softball team faced a familiar foe in the championship game of the LSU-A Bracket. The Lady Eagles squared off against tenth ranked Martin Methodist College for a chance to advance to the NAIA World Series. WBC scored two runs in the top of the seventh and kept the Redhawks off the scoreboard to complete an undefeated run in the LSU-A Bracket and advance to the World Series in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Dramatic Conclusion:
WBC had Jordyn Barkowsky (SO/Kingsburg, Calif. ), pinch-hitter Molleigh Gray (SO/North Little Rock, Ark. ) and Madelyn Poe (SO/Beebe, Ark. ) due up in the seventh. Barkowsky singled to left center to start. Gray hit a weak ball to short and MMC made an error to give WBC runners on first and second with no outs. Poe reached on a walk to load the bases. Susannah Pugh (SR/Hernando, Miss. ) had an infield single to score pinch-runner Alexis Ingram (JR/Quitman, Ark. ) for the first run of the game.
Brooke Mason (FR/Bald Knob, Ark. ) put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Madelyn Poe for the second run of the game. Rylee Rogers (JR/Conyers, Ga. ) worked another 1-2-3 inning to secure the WBC victory and send the Lady Eagles to Iowa. For the tournament, Rogers only allowed two runs in 21 innings pitched on three consecutive days.
Pitching coach Karisa Hendrix had nothing but praise for her junior workhorse after the game. "Throwing three days in a row is tough on your arm. At the end of the game, their hitters were really aggressive. I was proud of her and the whole WBC pitching staff this season."
"I think our defense was solid," said Rogers. "Our infield and outfield came up clutch with some diving plays."
Leadoff hitter Madelyn Poe was a key factor in today's win. The spark plug went 3-for-3 today and made a diving catch in the bottom of the third to keep MMC off the scoreboard.
"My goal is to get on base and we have a dangerous lineup with Suzie, Callie and everyone else behind me and I know no matter what, they have my back," said Poe.
How it Started:
Madelyn Poe started the game off with a single to left field in the first at-bat in the contest. After a Susannah Pugh sac bunt, Callie Brooks (SR/Monette, Ark. ) hit into a 4-5 fielder's choice that gunned Poe down at third base. The Redhawks worked out of the first without any damage.
Martin Methodist was able to collect a pair of infield singles and had runners on first and second with one out. Brooks ran down a ball in deep center for the second out of the inning. A 4-3 groundout to Jordyn Barkowsky was the final out of the frame.
Second and Third:
MMC retired the first two batters in the second before Haley Hambrick (SO/Batesville, Ark. ) singled to right center. A 4-3 groundout on the next batter retired the Lady Eagles in the top half.
The Redhawks started the bottom of the second with a leadoff walk. A sac bunt and an infield single put runners on the corner with only one out. Rogers was able to get a popout to Brooke Mason for the second out and a flyout to Callie Brooks for the final out of the inning.
WBC threatened in the top of the third as Madelyn Poe and Susannah Pugh both collected singles. With runners on first and second and only one out, Martin Methodist worked out of the inning with a 6-5 fielder's choice and a 4-3 groundout.
The Redhawks started off the inning with a single to right and took advantage of a WBC error to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ashley Lyons (FR/Vilonia, Ark. ) caught a weak lineout for the first out of the inning. Madelyn Poe then made a nice sliding catch to her left for the second out. Another fly out to Callie Brooks kept the game scoreless at 0-0.
The Middle Innings:
The Lady Eagles were retired 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth. Rylee Rogers got the first two outs of the inning, but a two out single put a runner on first. Catcher Hayley Overbay (SR/Jonesboro, Ark. ) ended the inning by gunning down the runner on a 2-3-6-3-6 putout after a rundown.
In the fifth, WBC started a late two out rally with a Madelyn Poe single and a Susannah Pugh double to left. Callie Brooks grounded out to first for the final out. Rogers worked a 1-2-3 bottom half to get WBC back up to bat in the sixth.
Brooke Mason lined out to right for the first out. Andrea Drake (SR/Columbia, Mo. ) then followed with another hard hit ball into center for the single. Pinch-runner Leslie Garza (SO/Kingsburg, Calif. ) came into the game for the first WBC substitution. Ashley Lyons flied out to deep center for the second out after a tough battle at the plate. Haley Hambrick grounded out to third for the final out of the inning.
Rogers worked another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. She earned six outs on seven pitches in the fifth and the sixth.
Been There, Done That:
The Lady Eagles have three players on the 2016 team that reached the NAIA World Series as freshmen in 2013. Here are Callie Brooks, Hayley Overbay and Susannah Pugh's reactions to going back to the NAIA World Series as seniors:
"It feels great to be going back to the NAIA World Series and to be a part of such a special team like this," stated Brooks. "Knowing we are one of the top ten teams in the nation is an amazing feeling." She concluded, "I have no doubt in my mind that this group is going to do big things in Iowa."
"I feel like we deserve this opportunity because we worked for it," said Overbay. "As a freshman, I do not think we understood what it took to get to this point, but now as a senior looking back, we realize just how special this moment in time is." She added, "I wouldn't have this season play out any other way."
Pugh added similar thoughts on her reflection: "As a freshman, I don't think I realized how huge it was going to the national tournament. Now that I am a senior, I find myself appreciating the little things even more and it makes going back to the tournament even more special." Pugh also went 3-for-3 in the championship game today.
First Year Coaches, First Year Champions:
The WBC coaching staff has had fantastic success in its first year. Head Coach Laura Tucker and Assistant Coach Karisa Hendrix have experienced postseason success as players and now get to experience it as coaches for the first time.
"We've fought really hard all year. They never gave up," said Tucker. "Everyone stepped up when we needed them. We talked about Iowa and we are not finished yet."
Hendrix observed, "Since the conference tournament, this group has been the most determined group of girls I've seen play in a long time."
Williams is one of ten teams remaining in the NAIA and will travel to Sioux City, Iowa on May 26th for the 36th Annual Softball World Series. The Lady Eagles have been selected as the ninth seed in the NAIA World Series and will play Marian (Ind). in its first round game on Friday, May 27 at 1 p.m.