ANDERSON, S.C. – Junior Lacye Walker homered in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the score and sophomore Hannah Reppert’s walk-off, two-out single provided the winning run as third-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State outlasted second-seeded Anderson, 7-6, in NCAA Southeast Regional Softball Tournament action, Saturday afternoon at Smethers Field.
Anderson slipped to 43-11 on the season and will face sixth-seeded USC Aiken (33-15) at noon in Sunday’s elimination bracket after the Pacers blanked Georgia College, 2-0, in a contest detoured by a five-hour rain delay. Armstrong will square off against the winner of the Anderson/USC Aiken contest at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Senior Danielle Swygert went 2-for-4 on the afternoon, with an RBI-single in the first inning and her 10th homer of the season in the third inning. Junior third baseman Bri Cason added a double and a single, while sophomore Molly Child also notched a single and a double. Senior Abby Child posted a run-scoring double and a pair of walks, while driving in two runs and scoring twice.
Junior Katelynn Howser (19-6) suffered the loss in the circle, allowing seven runs - all earned - on 10 hits, while tossing her 12th complete game of the season. The right-hander walked six and struck out one.
The Trojans garnered an early one-run lead in the top of the first inning after Abby Child struck out swinging with two outs, but reached base safely and wound up on third. Swygert followed by going the opposite way with a hard line-drive single into left to bring Child home.
Armstrong countered by taking a brief lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second frame. Senior Andrea Dalton led off with a home run for the Pirates to even the score and senior Kat Vogler followed with a walk. Following back-to-back walks by sophomore Heather Ellis and Kacie Patterson that loaded the bases, junior Alexis Mercer plated Vogler with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to center. On the throw to the plate, Eliie strayed too far off second and was thrown out in a rundown.
Anderson regained the lead in the back-and-forth battle, 3-2, with a run in the top of the fourth frame, as senior Charlotte Sieber reached on a fielder’s choice and crossed the plate on Abby Child’s bases-loaded walk with two outs.
Armstrong answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, as the Pirates batted around and capitalized on three singles and a pair of walks to claim a 5-3 lead. But the Trojans refused to go away quietly, as AU sent nine batters to the plate as well, taking a 6-5 edge with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Junior Jessica Neidigh and Molly Child opened the inning with back-to-back one-out singles, with Abby Child ripping an opposite-field double to plate Neidigh to pull Anderson within one. The Pirates intentionally walked Swygert to load the bases and freshman Courtney Czentnar followed with a walk to knot the score at 5-5. Two batters later, senior catcher Laura Jansky laced a clutch two-out single through the left side to score Abby Child with the go-ahead run.
The Trojans, who stranded 13 base runners on the afternoon, threatened again in the top of the seventh with two outs. Molly Child recorded a two-out double and Abby Child followed with a walk, but AU was unable to push across an insurance run.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Walker evened the score at 6-6 with her solo home run and the Pirates loaded the bases with back-to-back two-out singles. Reppert then ended the contest by ripping a single through the left side of the infield top score Dalton with the winning run.