Generals get walk-off winner in NAIA Softball opening round
Lawrenceville, Ga. – The LSUA softball team stayed locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel in the first game of the Lawrenceville Bracket in the NAIA Softball National Championship Tournament Opening Round against Truett-McConnell, but it would be one mishap by the Bears in the final inning that provided the winning run for the Generals as LSUA upset #12 Truett-McConnell 1-0 Monday at the Grizzly Softball Complex on the campus of Georgia Gwinnett College.
The Generals were able to wiggle out of early trouble to keep Truett-McConnell off the board. In the first inning, a lead-off single was erased as part of an inning-ending double play, and in the second inning, a lead-off double was kept there as three straight infield pop outs retired the side. The Bears really threatened in the top of the third inning as a line drive was misjudged, allowing the lead-off hitter to go all the way to third base. However, the Generals got out of that jam as well as Abbey McMillian came on out of the bullpen and struck out the first three batters she faced to strand that runner at third base.
After being kept off the bases through the first three innings, the Generals got their first base runner of the game to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning as Bailey McCleary rolled a ground ball towards the hole at shortstop, and it couldn’t be fielded cleanly which allowed McCleary to reach safely. McCleary got to second on a sacrifice bunt, but an infield pop fly and a line drive to first base kept McCleary at second when the inning ended.
Both teams had chances with runners in scoring position and two outs in the fifth inning, but a strikeout ended Truett-McConnell’s threat while LSUA was kept scoreless by a ground ball back to the circle for the inning’s final out.
LSUA finally got its first base hit of the game with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning as Bailey McCleary flared a fly ball towards the right-center gap that fell just out of the reach of the diving Bear center fielder, allowing McCleary to get to second base for a double. But the Generals couldn’t make it hurt as a ground ball and a liner to center kept the game scoreless.
With the Bears going up and down in order in the seventh, the Generals had a chance to walk the game off, and they would take advantage and wouldn’t let Truett-McConnell bat again. Emily Daniel led off the inning by poking a base hit into center field to give LSUA a runner on first base with no outs. With Morgan Berry taking over on the base paths, Shelby Brown was asked to sacrifice herself to get Berry in scoring position. But that plan worked much better than expected as the bunt was laid down, but the Bear catcher went to get Berry at second base. However, the throw went way wild, not just sailing into the outfield, but also rolled past the onrushing center fielder all the way to the fence, allowing Berry to round third base and come home for the game’s only run, ending the contest.
Abbey McMillian (13-6) picked up her sixth win since the start of the RRAC Tournament last weekend, going five innings in today’s contest and allowed just one hit and no runs with two walks and seven strikeouts. RyLeigh Rutherford started the contest and gave up just two hits with no runs, walks, or strikeouts in two-plus innings of work.
Bailey McCleary was one of three at the plate with a double. Emily Daniel had LSUA’s only other hit, going one of three as well, while Haylee Tidwell drew LSUA’s lone walk in the contest. Morgan Berry scored the game’s only run, and since the run scored on an error, there was no RBI.
The (RV) Generals (34-14), who are the three seed in the Lawrenceville Bracket, move on in the winner’s bracket contest on Tuesday against the Bracket’s top-seed and host, #8 Georgia Gwinnett. Georgia Gwinnett advanced with a 4-1 win over the four-seed Rio Grande Red Storm in Monday’s final game. First pitch between the Generals and Grizzlies (40-14) is set for 11:00 A.M. central time at the Grizzly Softball Complex.
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