SFA Softball Splits on Opening Day
Feb. 9, 2007
WACO, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack softball team put up 23 runs Friday as they split their opening day doubleheader in the Baylor Getterman Classic. SFA defeated Southern Miss, 12-4, in the opener, then was edged out by Kentucky in a high-scoring 12-11 affair that saw the two teams combine for 28 hits.
Senior second baseman Heather Hebert led the offensive explosion, going 4-for-7 on the afternoon with a double and six RBI in her first action since missing most of last season with an injury. Junior first baseman Jessica Tullos also recorded four hits, going 4-for-5 with three doubles and four runs driven in. Junior college transfer Bria Wilson made an immediate impact in her Ladyjack debut. She was 2-for-2 with a triple, a two-run homer and five RBI, batting in the designated hitter position.
Freshman pitcher Ashley Wilburn started against Southern Miss in the opener. The Golden Eagles touched her for two runs on three hits in the first, but the rookie settled down after that and pitched three straight scoreless innings before giving up two more scores in the fifth inning. SFA scratched twice in the bottom half of that inning to set the final score in the run-rule shortened game.
After Southern Miss opened the game with two runs, SFA put a run on the board in the bottom of the first. Kendal Harper led off with a bunt single, then the Ladyjacks loaded the bases with a Crystal Dahlquist walk and another bunt single, this one to the left side off the bat of Sydney Davis. The cleanup batter, Wilson, lifted a sac fly to right, scoring Harper, but the Eagles escaped the inning without further damage.
Wilson drove in two more runs in the third, when she tripled to right-center to score Dahlquist and Davis. The two runners had reached base on a hit batsman and a walk, respectively. SFA stranded Wilson on third, but it didn't matter an inning later.
Wilburn got in a bit of a jam in the top of the fourth when Southern Miss put runners at second and third with one out, but she got a strikeout and a pop-up in the next two at-bats to work out of it. The Golden Eagles wouldn't get within striking distance again.
In the Ladyjack half of the fourth, SFA put together three hits and took advantage of two Golden Eagle errors to score seven runs and put the game out of reach. With runners on second and third and two out, Harper tripled to left-center, scoring both. The next batter grounded out to short, but the next three Ladyjacks in the order -- Davis, Wilson and Wilburn -- each drew a walk to force Harper home. Hebert then cleared the bases with a three-RBI double. She advanced to third on an errant throw and scored SFA's seventh run of the fourth when Tullos singled to left field in her second at-bat of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Michele Huffman led off with an infield single then stole second and third. She scored when the Southern Miss defense couldn't handle a bunt laid down by Dahlquist, two batters later. Dahlquist moved to second on a throwing error, then stole third and came home when the catcher's throw to third sailed wide.
Wilburn was credited with the first win and complete-game effort of her career. In all, she gave up four earned runs on six hits and seven walks in 5.0 innings. She posted five strikeouts. The Ladyjacks didn't commit a single error behind her.
The Ladyjacks continued their hot hitting in Game 2 Friday, but, unfortunately, their opponent got out to a hot start as well. Kentucky pounded out 16 hits to SFA's 12 to edge the Ladyjacks by one run in a shootout.
SFA did most of its damage against the Wildcats in its second big inning of the day. The Ladyjacks used six hits in the second inning to put up seven runs and take a 7-2 edge over their SEC opponent. SFA led off the inning with back-to-back singles by Hebert and Kari Hugie. The next batter, Chelsea Carr, walked to load the bases. The Wildcats got a force out at home on a fielder's choice by Michele Huffman, but Harper drove in Hugie with a single to right in the next SFA at-bat. Two batters later, Davis hit a two-out single to right that scored two runs. Wilson, the next batter, was hit by a pitch, then Tullos pushed two more runs across with a double to left-center. That brought the order back around to Hebert, who promptly rapped out her second base knock of the inning, scoring two more runs. Hugie struck out swinging to end the inning.
Hugie, who started in the circle for SFA, retired the Wildcats in order in the second and third innings, and the Ladyjacks added two more runs to their lead in their half of the fourth. Dahlquist walked and stole second to lead things off. She was able to trot home at her leisure two batters later, when Wilson blasted a home run over the left field wall. The next batter, Tullos, doubled down the left field line, but Kentucky changed pitchers and was able to stop the bleeding at just two runs.
The Wildcats put together a rally in the fourth. A leadoff triple, followed by two straight singles, chased Hugie from the mound. She was replaced by freshman Magen Butler. Kentucky would add two more hits and three more runs, making the score 9-6, before Butler could close the book on the fourth.
Kentucky closed the gap to one run after SFA went scoreless in the fifth and the Wildcats recorded a two-run homer in their half. The Ladyjacks made it an 11-8 game in the top of the sixth. Davis got things going with a one-out single, then moved to second when Wilson drew a walk. Tullos doubled to right-center to score Candise Juarez, who was pinch-running for Davis. Hebert then singled to center field to bring home the second SFA run of the inning and give the Ladyjacks a three-run cushion.
But it wasn't quite enough. Butler gave way to Wilburn after issuing a leadoff walk in the Kentucky sixth. The next batter doubled to center field to put two runners in scoring position. A one-out double two batters later scored two runs to trim SFA's lead to one. The next two batters singled with an RBI on the second hit tying the score at 11. The next Kentucky batter blasted the third double of the inning to score the Wildcats' final run. SFA went down in order in the top of the seventh.
Wilburn (1-1) took the loss after working only one full inning. She allowed three earned runs on five hits. Hugie gave up five runs on six hits, and Butler worked two complete innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks.
The Ladyjacks (1-1) will return to action in the tournament Saturday morning. SFA is set for another doubleheader, starting at 11:45 against host team Baylor. The Ladyjacks will take on Southland Conference newcomer Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 Saturday evening. SFA will wrap up play in the Getterman Classic Sunday, when the Ladyjacks play a rematch against Southern Miss at 11 a.m.
-- SFA --