04/23/07 — Trojan softball finishes third in CVAC tournament

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Trojan softball finishes third in CVAC tournament

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on April 23, 2007 1:47 PM

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- The dream may have come up short for the Mount Olive softball team, but the Trojan seniors were able to finish their careers with the winningest season in school history.

Jamie Pruitt's first-inning two-run triple gave top-seeded Mount Olive an early lead, but No. 5 seed Queens used a four-run fifth inning on its way to a 5-2 win over the Trojans in the semifinal of the 2007 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference softball tournament Sunday.

Mount Olive, which won a share of the regular season conference title for the first time since 1997, finished third in the tournament, its best finish since 2000 when the Trojans won the conference tournament. Pitcher Jenny Jackson and catcher Bailey Harrell, who hit two home runs apiece in the tournament, represented the Trojans on the all-tournament team.

Mount Olive posted a 39-19 mark this season, setting a school record for most wins in a season. The previous mark was 35.

The Trojans took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Melissa Bright singled with one out. Harrell hit into a force play for the second out and Jackson drew a walk. Pruitt hit a line drive to right and the ball went to the fence after an attempt at a shoestring catch, allowing Harrell and Jackson to score.

It was the third consecutive tournament game in which Mount Olive scored two runs in the first inning. The Trojans posted a 5-2 win over Erskine and a 10-1 victory over Limestone Saturday in their previous two games.

Mount Olive escaped a threat in the top of the third as Queens had runners on second and third with one out. Jackson fielded a come-backer to the mound and threw to Pruitt at first for the second out of the inning. The runner on third broke for home, but Pruitt threw a strike to the plate and Harrell made the tag for an inning-ending 1-3-2 double play.

The double play was the fourth turned by the Trojans in the tournament.

But the Trojans would not be able to escape trouble in the fifth inning as Queens had runners on first and third with one out. A ground out to Allison Czerski at third advanced the runner to second, but kept Queens scoreless. But Amanda Bowman's single down the third base line plated the Royals' first run and a wild pitch tied the game 2-2. Brittany Harkey then followed with a two-run homer to put Queens on top for the first time 4-2.

All four runs in the fifth inning were unearned and Queens added another unearned run in the sixth. Shauna Cowdrey replaced Jackson with runners on second and third and nobody out, and retired the next three batters. Cowdrey also retired the side in order in the seventh.

Mount Olive had a baserunner in the fifth inning and Czerski's two-out single in the sixth gave the Trojans runners on first and second, but the Trojans were unable to push across a run. Mount Olive was retired in order in the seventh.

Jackson, the 2007 CVAC Softball Player of the Year, posted a 0.00 earned run average in 242/3 innings pitched in the tournament. She finished with a 19-7 record on the season, including a 3-1 mark in the tournament. Cowdrey did not allow a run in three relief appearances in the tournament.

Mount Olive posted a 3-2 record in the tournament, both losses coming to Queens. Eight days earlier, the Trojans swept a doubleheader over Queens in their regular season conference finale to clinch a share of the regular season title.

Bright, Cowdrey, Pruitt, second baseman Colleen Thomas, centerfielder Erin Wilson and student assistant coach Jackie Wyman finish their careers as part of fifth-year head coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham's first-ever recruiting class. Senior pitcher Krystal Bourne, right fielder Tiffanie Pittman and student assistant coach Rigil Gruca also conclude their collegiate softball careers.

Kylis-Higginbotham fought off tears as she praised her seniors and her team.

"I am so proud of these kids for what they've accomplished," said Kylis-Higginbotham, who was named 2007 CVAC Softball Coach of the Year.

"You hate to see it end, but this has been a phenomenal season. The seniors have made their mark and laid down the foundation for a very bright future for Trojan softball."

-- MOC sports information