May 9, 2012 Edition

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Lady Eagles are
AMC Tourney champs


The Williams Baptist College softball squad won the American Midwest Conference Tournament championship on Friday afternoon. WBC swept the Pirates from Park University in the best-of-three series. They won game one 5-0 and game two 3-2 in the 10th inning. Now the Lady Eagles will be headed to the national tournament in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Williams' record stands at 49-9 and they are the 14th-ranked NAIA team in the country. They have captured the regular season and postseason AMC crown for the first time in school history.

The Lady Eagles controlled game one from the first inning. After pitcher Shelby Anderson put the Pirate hitters down in order, WBC's offense got started with an infield single by leadoff hitter Felicia Woodard, who was then sacrificed to second by Wendy Eftink. After a groundout and walk, Laura Tucker drove in the first run of the game with a ball to left field. Chelsea Sanders and Jill Graham hit back-to-back singles to add two more runs and give Williams a 3-0 lead after one inning.

From there it turned into a pitching battle between Anderson and Megan Walker. Neither pitcher gave up a run until Williams snuck two across in the fifth for the decisive 5-0 lead.

Anderson finished the complete game shutout giving up four hits and two walks. She gave credit to her defense for the victory, as Graham gathered eight assists from the shortstop position.

"I really depended on my defense the whole game, and the defense came through in a big way. Jill stopped everything hit to her," said Anderson.

The Lady Eagles finished with nine hits in the contest, while holding Park to four.

Game two would be a pitching duel between Karisa Hendrix and Kaily Purtle. Both pitchers went a combined 20 innings and 304 pitches thrown. Hendrix would edge Purtle 3-2 in 10 innings.

The spectators had to wait till the fourth inning to see a run cross the plate. Hallie Horton and Tucker would score after an error by the Pirates infield, giving the Lady Eagles the 2-0 lead.

The lead seemed safe until there was one out in the bottom of the seventh and Park's Shaya Kinsey belted a two-run home run to left field. The shot tied the game and sent it to extra innings.

Park looked likely to score when an error sent Mallory Jansen to third base, but Woodard gunned her out with a laser from centerfield when Jansen tried to score.

After both teams failed to score in the eighth or ninth innings, the 10th would provide the winning run. Woodard led off the inning with an infield single, followed by an Eftink sacrifice. With one out and a runner on second, Anderson came to the plate. She lined the first pitch over the shortstop's head and Woodard raced around the bases to give the Lady Eagles the 3-2 lead.

Hendrix walked two batters in the bottom of the 10th but struck out the Pirate batter on her 159th pitch of the contest. The Lady Eagles swept the series and advanced to their first ever NAIA national tournament.

"I am just so happy for our team and our seniors because we have been so close in previous years. It is fulfilling for our seniors and our team to reach this goal," said head coach Eric Newell.

The NAIA tournament will take place May 17-23 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Semifinals

The Lady Eagles overcame a three-run deficit to beat Columbia College in the American Midwest Conference softball tournament semifinals on May 2. The final score was 5-4 with the winning run scored in WBC's last at-bat.

The Lady Eagles looked likely to get on the board first when they advanced runners to second and third with no outs in the second. However, Jordan Crisp used two strikeouts and a ground out to end the inning without giving up a run.

Columbia used the momentum gained by Crisp to get runs in the top of the third. Three hits and an error led to three runs in the inning. Williams would get one back in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Shelby Anderson. Columbia led 3-1 after three.

The Cougars added to their lead in the fourth when Chelsie Crain doubled on a ball to the fence. The Lady Eagles would come to the plate in the fourth down 4-1.

After a ground out by Horton, Tucker was able to get a rally going by tripling to the fence in right field. Next up, Sanders doubled in the gap to drive in Tucker. After a Graham fly out, Ashley Boyles came to the plate with Sanders on second. She hit a line drive off the fence to trade places with Sanders. The Lady Eagles would tie the game when Lauren Sweeten hit a bullet to center field, driving in Boyles and knotting the game at four.

Three of the four hits in the inning were by seniors. "We needed some players to step up and our seniors have been through adversity before, and it prepared them for that situation," said Newell.

Neither team was able to get a run in the fifth, so the game entered the sixth tied. Hendrix worked around an error to keep the Cougars from scoring.

Boyles led off the sixth for Williams with a walk and then was forced out on a fielder's choice. Sweeten reached first base on the fielder's choice and advanced to second on an illegal pitch by Crisp. She would come around to score on a wild throw by the Cougars infield, giving Williams the 5-4 lead.

Columbia was able to get a runner to second in the seventh, but Hendrix got Marli Hayes to fly out to left field to end the contest.

"Columbia gave us everything we wanted and then some. Their coaches and players have a lot of class," Newell said.

Hendrix earned her 29th victory of the season. She gave up four runs (one earned) on six hits, while striking out six Cougar batters.

Tucker and Sanders led Williams offensively, combining to go 4-for-6 from the plate with one run batted in and two runs scored.

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