ANDERSON, S.C. – Senior Abby Child’s one-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning propelled second-seeded Anderson past eighth-seeded Catawba, 3-2, as the Trojans advanced to Sunday’s championship contest of the 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Softball Tournament, Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Memorial’s Dorothy Neely Field.
Anderson improved to 41-10 on the season, while defeating Catawba (26-20) by a single run for the third time this season. The Trojans have won five straight and 16 of their last 17 contests, while setting a new school record for wins in a season. The eighth-seeded Indians had won two straight decisions in the tourney after finishing the regular season with five consecutive losses.
The Trojans remain the only undefeated team in the double elimination tourney and moves on to meet Wingate, who advanced from the elimination bracket with an 8-0 win past Catawba following the AU victory. First-pitch from Neely Field is set for 1 p.m.
Anderson and Wingate will be squaring off for the fourth time this season and second time in four days, with the Trojans holding a 2-1 edge in the season series as the two squads meet with the conference championship on the line.
Child’s dramatic home run, her third round-tripper in two days gave AU its first lead of the day, with the shortstop finishing the afternoon with an additional single and a walk. Sophomore Molly Child went 3-for-4 on the day, with a run-scoring double and a pair of singles, with junior Bri Cason adding a single and a walk.
Junior pitcher Katelynn Howser started the contest in the circle for the Trojans, but did not earn a decision after tossing 4 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out one. Freshman Augie Pena (8-1) garnered the win, while limiting the Indians to a pair of hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander struck out three and issued two free passes.
Catawba took an early lead with a run in the top of the first inning, while the Trojans answered with a solo run in the bottom of the frame. Junior Jessica Neidigh was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and followed by stealing her 26th consecutive base of the season. Neidigh crossed the plate when Molly Child ripped her 11th double of the season to right field.
Sophomore Holli Chandler led off the fifth inning with a solo homer to right field to give the Indians a 2-1 edge, while AU recorded a pair of singles and a walk in the fifth and sixth innings, but was unable to push across the tying run until the Childs’ final-inning heroics.
Molly Child went the opposite way for a one-out single and Abby Child followed with her league-leading 14th home run of the campaign beyond the center-field fence. The home run marked Child’s 46th of her four-year career, tying Lenoir-Rhyne’s Sarah Atkins for the most career homers in the South Atlantic Conference.