Late-Inning Heroics Give WT Softball Second Round Win over Armstrong Atlantic
SALEM, Virginia – West Texas A&M committed four errors and trailed 5-4 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning but senior third baseman Jessica Sipe connected on a two run single with the bases loaded and two outs to give the #1 Lady Buffs the 6-5 thrilling win over the #19 Pirates of Armstrong Atlantic State on Friday afternoon at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Virginia. The Lady Buffs move to 58-7 overall on the season while the Pirates fall to 36-14.
“Really proud of our kids for not giving up when we obviously didn’t play well today, Jessica really showed her senior leadership in the sixth to fight off a great inside pitch to drive it down the line. Give credit to Armstrong, they’re a great team that can swing it and their pitcher was solid in the circle” said WT head coach Kevin Blaskowski “Now we get the advantage of having an off-day tomorrow and we get to come back and stay on the winners side of the bracket with someone having to beat us twice on Sunday.”
The Pirates wasted no time scoring in the top of the first inning as Alexis Mercer connected on her 24th long ball of the season on an 0-1 offering to deep right center field to leadoff the inning, Armstrong wasn’t done yet as they put runners on the corners with no outs before Hannah Newcomb registered the first out of the game via the strikeout. The Pirates drove in another run with a Hannah Reppert groundout to Jessica Sipe at the hot corner for the second out before Brittany Gehle ended the inning on a grounder to second as Armstrong took the 2-0 lead.
Alyssa Lemos and Tyler Wilkinson made up for early errors in the field as they both reached base to start the bottom of the first inning before Renee Erwin gave the Lady Buffs the lead with a three run blast down the right field line the opposite way to give WT the 3-2 lead with no outs. WT loaded the bases with three straight walks to Allie Cranfill, Mallory Wyatt and Lacey Taylor with two outs before Armstrong made a diving stop in the hole between first and second to end the inning with the Lady Buffs leading 3-2. Erwin’s dinger gave the junior outfielder her 81st run scored of the season to set a new single season Lone Star Conference record to pass ASU’s Morgan Spearman who set the new record earlier this season.
Armstrong threatened in the top of the third inning as a leadoff single followed by a single and a WT error to put runners on second and third with one out to knock Newcomb out of the game, Rita Hokianga entered from the bullpen and forced an RBI groundout to Gehle at second base by Reppert to tie the game at 3-3 followed by a hit-by-pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs before a flyout to Wilkinson in center ended the inning with the teams tied at 3-3.
The Lady Buffs wasted no time re-taking the lead as Sipe reached first via a Pirates error in the outfield to leadoff the inning followed by a strikeout and a Wyatt double down the right field line to put runners on second and third with one out, Taylor gave WT the lead with an RBI groundout to the bag at first base as Sipe scored from third to move the score to 4-3 in favor of the Lady Buffs.
The Pirates retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning as the defensive miscues continued for the Lady Buffs as an infield error, WT’s fourth of the game, with one out put a runner on first base for Mercer who connected on her second long ball of the game to run the Armstrong lead to 5-4. Hokianga forced a groundout to Sipe at the hot corner for the second out of the inning before a wild pitch on a strikeout allowed the Pirates a runner on first base followed by a double to the left center field gap to move runners to second and third before a flyout to Erwin in right ended the frame with Armstrong leading 5-4.
Erwin set her second LSC single season record of the day in the bottom of the fourth inning as they junior outfielder registered a walk to gain her 176th total base of the season to pass former Angelo State standout Macy Baker’s record of 175 back in the 2009 campaign. The top of the fifth saw the Sipe make a sliding play in foul territory on a popup for the first out before Haley Ellis doubled to the left center field wall followed by a flyout to center that moved the runner to third base with two outs before Hokianga forced a groundout to second base with Armstrong continuing to lead 5-4.
The top of the sixth inning saw the Pirates threaten again as WT pitched around Mercer in the leadoff spot followed by a sacrifice bunt attempt that was popped up to Cranfill at first base followed by Hokianga’s third strikeout of the game for the second out, Mercer stole second base on a 0-1 count before Andrea Dalton popped up to Gehle at second base to end the inning as Armstrong took the 5-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning.
The bottom of the sixth inning saw Gehle lace a line drive to the right center field gap as the Pirates were unable to come up with the catch, Lemos grounded out to the circle to move Gehle into scoring position with one out before a Wilkinson single to right field put runners on the corners with just one out. Erwin drew her third walk of the game to load the bases followed by a big AASU strikeout by Ollivia McLemore before Sipe came up with the big hit as the senior looped a ball over the third baseman’s head that just stayed fair to drive in a pair of runs to give the Lady Buffs the 6-5 lead headed to the seventh inning.
The top of the seventh inning saw the Pirates launch the first pitch of the frame deep to center field as Wilkinson made the grab at the wall in left center followed by Hokianga registering her fourth strikeout of the game for the second out, the junior lefty walked Ellis who doubled earlier in the game to bring her sister Heather Ellis to the plate as the sophomore struck out swinging to end the game as WT took the 6-5 win.
The Lady Buffs remain on the winner’s side of the bracket as they receive an off-day on Saturday while four teams will be eliminated during action at the Moyer Sports Complex. WT’s Sunday opponent will be determined by action on Saturday, the Lady Buffs will need just one win on Sunday to advance to Monday’s title game while an opponent would have to knock-off the top ranked Lady Buffs twice to advance.