May 25, 2016 Edition

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Lady Eagles go to World Series

The Williams Baptist College softball team faced a familiar foe in the championship game of the LSU-Alexandria bracket. The Lady Eagles squared off against 10th-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 bracket and advance to the World Series in Sioux City, Iowa.

Jordyn Barkowsky singled to start the seventh inning for the Lady Eagles. MMC committed an error on a ball hit by Molleigh Gray to give WBC runners on first and second with no outs. Madelyn Poe reached on an infield single to load the bases. A Redhawk error on a ball hit by Susannah Pugh allowed pinch runner Alexis Ingram to score the first run of the game Brooke Mason put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Poe with the second run.

Rylee Rogers retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh 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, Rylee was really aggressive and she frustrated their hitters. 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 Poe was a key factor in the win. The spark plug went 3-for-3 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.

Callie Brooks, Hayley Overbay and Pugh were freshmen on the WBC team that reached the World Series in 2013.

"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 10 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.

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."

"Since the conference tournament, this group has been the most determined group of girls I've seen play in a long time," said Hendrix.

Williams is one of 10 teams that will compete in the 36th Annual Softball World Series, which will begin Thursday in Sioux City, Iowa.

LSU-Alexandria

After defeating Martin Methodist in the first round, WBC faced LSU-Alexandria in a winner's bracket game on May 17.

Williams started the top of the first inning with its bats locked and loaded. Pugh led the inning off with an infield single. Brooks then reached first on an error. Mason followed by launching a rocket to deep center for a two-RBI double, giving WBC a 2-0 lead.

"I was looking for the fastball," said Mason. "She got behind in the count and I knew I had to take advantage of it."

Rogers walked out to the circle with a lead before throwing her first pitch. After a walk to the second hitter, she worked out of the inning with no damage.

WBC added a run in the top of the sixth. Tucker once again looked to her bench for production and Gray provided the spark with an RBI single to score pinch runner Leslie Garza and give the Lady Eagles a 4-2 advantage.

Rogers set down the Generals in order in the bottom of the sixth.

"I was thankful for the opportunity and I was ready to help get us a bigger lead," said Gray after her pinch-hit single.

In the seventh, Brooks hit a double off the left field wall with one out to give WBC another runner in scoring position. After Mason fouled out, Andrea Drake delivered a key insurance blow to center as her double off the wall scored Brooks and gave WBC a 5-2 lead.

"I knew she was going to be coming in with the rise ball, so I knew I had to do something with it," stated Brooks.

Rogers collected a fly out to left, a strikeout and a pop out to second to finish the game.

"It's very exciting to get to play in the championship," said Rogers. "It's an adrenaline rush, and I rely on my defense to have my back."

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