NEO softball eliminated from NJCAA national tournament

NEO Sports
Monty Franks

ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse lost two one-run games by identical 6-5 scores which eliminated them from the 2017 Division I National Junior College Athletic Association National Softball Championship over a four-day period at the Canyons Complex.

The No. 6 seed Lady Norse sustained a 6-5 loss in eight innings Friday to No. 5 seed Howard, Texas in the consolation third round to finish 44-10 on the season.

The Howard Hawks of Big Springs, Texas, lost Saturday to No. 11 seed Lake Land, Illinois 11-3 in the consolation fourth round to finish 49-14 overall.

Defending national champion Butler (Kansas) College of El Dorado outlasted Salt Lake, Utah 11-7 score. The Grizzlies finish as back-to-back champions with a record of 58-1, while the runner-up Salt Lake Bruins dropped to 51-8 on the year.

Butler jumped out to an early advantage in the top of the first inning by knocking in two runs.

Salt Lake responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to finish the first frame with a 3-2 lead.

The Grizzlies swung the momentum back in their favor by countering with three runs in the second inning to lead 5-3.

Salt Lake added a run to cut the deficit 5-4, but the Grizzlies accumulated three more runs to extend the lead 8-4 through fourth innings.

The Bruins once again responded, as they tallied three runs in the fifth inning to trail 8-7 heading into the sixth inning.

Butler though had one more scoring outburst in their pocket and punched in three more runs to pull away from Salt Lake and clinch its second softball championship in program history.

Grizzly leftfielder Brynn Minor recorded three home runs and a game-high seven runs batted in. Minor finished the tournament with eight total RBIs.

Tournament MVP and most outstanding offensive player, Butler shortstop Becca Schulte, capped the championship season off with 10 RBIs and four home runs in the tournament.

Butler’s average winning margin in four tournament games played was 7.8 runs.

Sophomore Regan Mergele (13-0) captured the most outstanding pitcher of the tournament. Mergele tallied three of Butler’s four wins, which included a complete game shutout versus Central Arizona.

The Howard Hawks opened the game against NEO with a solo run in the first inning and two runs in both the second and third to grab a 5-0 margin.

Olivia Prather singled to left to start the bottom of the third inning for the Lady Norse. Hailey Seago drew one of her four walks during the game with Olivia Prather advancing to second base.

Peyton Tellez doubled to left-center scoring Olivia Prather for a 5-1 deficit for NEO.

Lady Norse lead off hitter Shelby Prather singled to start the fourth inning.

Veteran shortstop Libby Morris lined an RBI single up the middle as Shelby Prather came all the way around to score as NEO trailed by a 5-2 margin.

A single by Morris started a three-run rally by the Lady Norse in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Olivia Prather reached on a fielder’s choice, pinch hitter Kris Strong reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.

Rachel Haberman singled to left field scoring Morris and Lena Sanders reached on a fielder’s choice scoring Olivia Prather with Haberman being thrown out at second base.

Strong crossed home plate to create a 5-5 tie as Tellez grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Hawks’ pinch hitter Victoria Sorokina singled to start the top of the eighth inning.

After a single by Jackie Mercado sent Sorokina to third base, Mackenzie Mitchiner hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Sorokina with the eventual winning run.

Maci Willingham, Shelby Prather and Morris each generated two hits to lead NEO’s 10-hit offense.

Howard shortstop Tiare Lee collected three of the 16 hits by the Hawks. Madoline Seumalo, Megan Darling, Mariah Young and Mercado contributed two hits each.

NEO starter Rylee Willmon surrendered four runs on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk in the first two innings.

Olivia Prather (23-4) pitched six innings in relief following two runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts and four walks.

Kylie Shay started in the circle for the Hawks and allowed four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and four walks.

Mikaela Brown (16-5) earned the win by giving up one run on two hits in two innings of work.

After dropping a 6-5 decision to Lake Land last Wednesday to start the tournament, the Lady Norse responded with a 14-11 win on Thursday over the No. 14 seed Indian Hills, Iowa Falcons.

After the Falcons recorded two runs in the bottom of the first inning, the Lady Norse scored four runs each in the top of the third and fourth innings to construct an 8-5 advantage.

A leadoff home run by Shyanne Dubois and a solo homer by Sierra Walton (12) accounted for Indian Hills’ first runs off NEO starter Olivia Prather (23-3).

Tellez homered (2) to start NEO’s third inning. Haberman delivered a two-run single and Morris scored on a fielder’s choice for a 4-2 Lady Norse margin.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Erin Kuba walked scoring Walton for a 5-3 deficit.

Haberman hit a two-run single during the top of the four inning scoring both Shelby Prather and Morris. Seago singled scoring both Tellez and pinch hitter Shea Lynch for an 8-3 Lady Norse cushion.

Walton and Kassidi Henderson both produced RBI singles as the Indians closed to an 8-5 margin in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Indian Hills received an RBI single by Taylor Jones as Courtnei Hahn scored to pull to an 8-6 deficit in the fifth inning.

A solo home run by Seago (6) and a two-run blast by Tellez (3) that scored Haberman increased the Lady Norse lead to an 11-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning.

With the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, Shelby Prather scored on a RBI single by Jordan Wharton. Lena Sanders doubled scoring both Olivia Prather and Kris Strong for a 14-7 NEO lead.

Indian Hills recorded four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on a RBI single by Walton, a RBI single by Kelsy Carder and a two-run double by Kuba.

Shelby Prather generated four of NEO’s 15 total hits while Haberman and Tellez registered three each.

Walton produced four of the 14 Falcons hits. Dubois, Takushi and Henderson added two hits each despite a 55-degree air temperature.

Late Thursday night in the consolation quarterfinals, the Lady Norse posted a 1-0 upset over No. 4 seed Chipola, Florida.

The only run of the game happened in the bottom of the third inning.

Following a single by Tellez, Willingham doubled to straight-away center. The ball was misplayed by Barbara Woll as Tellez came around to score and Willingham advanced to third base.

Willmon (18-4) scattered two hits in the seven-inning shutout. Willmon struck out four and walked two.

Tellez produced two singles while Willingham had a double and Morris and Haberman contributed one single each for NEO’s offense.

Morgan Goree (28-2) allowed an unearned run on four hits in four innings for the Indians while Krystal Goodman pitched the final two innings in relief.