04/24/06 — MOC softball finishes season at 26-30

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MOC softball finishes season at 26-30

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on April 24, 2006 2:09 PM

CONCORD -- No. 9 seed Mount Olive rallied from a three-run deficit to take a late one-run lead, but sixth-seeded Lees-McRae came back to defeat the Trojans 5-4 in an elimination-round game in the 2006 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Softball Tournament on Sunday.

Mount Olive ends its season with a record of 26-30, the Trojans' highest single-season win total since recording 35 wins in 2000.

The Trojans threatened in the top of the first as Tiffanie Pittman led off with an opposite-field double to left. Pittman, who homered on the first pitch of the tournament in Friday's first-round win over Erskine, moved to third on Colleen Thomas' sacrifice, but was thrown out at the plate by Lees-McRae catcher Kasey McHone on a pitch that went to the backstop.

Mount Olive starter Shauna Cowdrey (11-13) struck out the side in the first inning, but Lees-McRae capitalized on three errors to score two unearned runs in the bottom of the second. With runners on first and third, the Trojans committed two errors on a double steal, then Lees-McRae added a run on a dropped infield pop-up in front of the plate.

Cowdrey held Lees-McRae hitless until Greta Turner led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run over the centerfield fence. Turner fouled off four pitches before driving a 1-2 pitch to give the Bobcats a 3-0 lead.

Mount Olive came back in the top of the fifth as Pittman drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second, and Thomas overcame an 0-2 count to single up the middle to load the bases.

Erin Wilson followed with a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to drive in the Trojans' first run.

Georgette Richardson singled through the right side to drive in two runs as Mount Olive tied the game. After Bailey Harrell walked to load the bases, Rigil Gruca was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and put the Trojans on top for the first time 4-3.

Lees-McRae tied the game in the bottom of the fifth as Salle Horner singled with one out and Dakota Beck drew a two-out walk. Turner worked the count full and fouled off four pitches before hitting a bloop single to right field to plate Horner and tie the game 4-4.

Lees-McRae loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on three singles, and Horner lined a single to center to put the Bobcats back on top.

Mount Olive threatened in the top of the seventh as Richardson singled and Harrell walked with one out, and the runners moved to second and third on a ground out.

But Lees-McRae pitcher Hannah Morgan closed out the game with her sixth strikeout of the game.

"We accomplished a lot of great things this season," said Trojan fourth-year head coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham. "We just seemed to run out of gas today."

Cowdrey went 51/3 innings, allowing five hits, striking out eight and walking two. Christine Ermer pitched the final 12/3 innings and finished the tournament with 52/3 scoreless innings in relief.

"We got some great pitching performances this weekend from Shauna, Christine and Krystal (Bourne)," said first-year assistant coach Londa Kaufman.

"Shauna did what she needed to do today and put us in a position to win. We just had some bad luck defensively."

Pittman compiled a team-high .625 batting average (5-for-8, home run, double, three walks) in the tournament as the All-CVAC First Team outfielder raised her season batting average to .386.

"I can't say enough good things about Tiffanie," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "She's been the spark that gets us going and she's one of the best leadoff hitters I've seen in a long time."

Gruca, the Trojans' lone senior, hit .429 (3-for-7) and Georgette Richardson batted .400.

The 2006 season marks the third consecutive year Mount Olive has improved its win total under Kylis-Higginbotham, who gives much of the credit to her assistant coach.

"Londa has been a huge asset to me and to the girls," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "She does a great job scouting and recruiting, and she frees me up to work more hands-on with the team. Londa is a huge part of our success this year."