04/22/07 — MOC softball advances

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MOC softball advances

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on April 22, 2007 2:01 AM

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- Bailey Harrell's walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth gave top-seeded Mount Olive a 10-1 run-rule victory over No. 4 seed Limestone as the Trojans advanced to the "final three" of the 2007 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference softball tournament on Saturday. The game was the third of the day for Mount Olive, which overcame a 2-0 loss to No. 5 seed Queens with a 5-2 win over No. 7 seed Erskine.

The Trojans take on Queens today at 11 a.m. in an elimination game, with the winner having to defeat No. 2 seed Coker twice to win the championship.

Mount Olive (39-18) was held to two hits against to Queens, which used a fourth-inning two-run homer by Rikki Coultas to put the Royals ahead to stay. The loss dropped the Trojans into the loser's bracket.

Harrell got the Trojans on the scoreboard quickly against Erskine with a two-run homer to centerfield, her fifth of the year. Mount Olive added three unearned runs with two outs in the third as Allison Czerski and Karen Thornton connected on bases-loaded RBI singles.

Jenny Jackson (19-6) retired the first nine batters she faced before allowing a leadoff bunt single in the top of the fourth. After first baseman Jamie Pruitt caught a line drive, right fielder Tiffanie Pittman made a diving catch on a sinking line drive for an inning ending double play.

Against Limestone, Jackson gave up an unearned run in the top of the first, her first run allowed in the tournament. But Jackson put the Trojans ahead to stay in the bottom of the first, drilling a 3-0 pitch over the left field fence for a two-out, two-run homer, her 10th of the season and second of the tournament.

Mount Olive used four consecutive two-out run-scoring hits in a four-run second inning. Karen Thornton scored from second on Erin Wilson's RBI single to right, and Pittman and Melissa Bright followed with back-to-back RBI singles. Harrell plated Bright with a single up the middle to extend the Trojans' lead to 6-1. Pittman's double was her 17th of the season.

The Trojans added a run in the third as Kat Cahoon drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on Wilson's double to left. Wilson got the sixth inning fireworks started with a leadoff opposite field triple down the left field line. Pittman drew a walk and one out later, Harrell crushed her sixth home run of the season over the left field fence.

Jackson allowed only two hits in five innings pitched and helped her cause defensively in the fifth, catching a line drive for an inning-ending double play after giving up an infield single. Shauna Cowdrey entered the game in relief in the sixth and Limestone got a runner to second on a bunt single and a stolen base. But catcher Harrell threw the runner out attempting to steal third as shortstop Thornton won a footrace to the bag with a sliding tag.

After being held to one run and six hits in its first two games, Mount Olive has scored 15 runs on 15 hits in its last two games.

Mount Olive has reached the final day of the CVAC tournament for the first time since 2000, when Trojans captured their first-ever tournament title. Coker, which defeated Queens 5-4 Saturday in a battle of the final two unbeaten teams, await the Mount Olive-Queens winner at 1:30 p.m. If Coker falls, a winner-takes-all game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the South Atlantic Regional of the 2007 NCAA Division II Softball Championship.

Friday's game

Mount Olive 1,

Belmont Abbey 0

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- Jenny Jackson tossed a five-hit shutout and accounted for the game's only run with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second as top-seeded Mount Olive defeated No. 8 seed Belmont Abbey 1-0 in the second round of the 2007 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Softball Tournament Friday.

Mount Olive (37-17) survived a bases loaded jam in the top of the first as Jackson got out of the inning on a ground out to third. Jackson (17-6) went on to retire 12 of the next 14 batters until Belmont Abbey threatened again in the sixth.

Katie Hobbs and Rachel Parker led of the Crusader sixth with consecutive singles, but Trojan second baseman Colleen Thomas caught a line drive for a 4-3 double play and third baseman Allison Czerski caught a pop-up to end the inning. Jackson retired the side in order in the seventh, capping the win with her fifth strikeout of the game.

After Belmont Abbey pitcher retired the Trojans in order in the bottom of the first inning, Jackson sent the first pitch of the second inning over the left-centerfield fence for her ninth home run of the season. Rutledge would finish with a four-hitter, two of the hits by Jackson.

Bailey Harrell and Tiffanie Pittman added singles for the Trojans.

-- MOC sports information