Armstrong Atlantic State slips past Lady Eagles, 3-2, in opening round of NCAA Southeast Regional
HICKORY, N.C. — Armstrong Atlantic State's Lauren Wilcox (Hazlehurst, Ga.) delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the third-seeded Pirates to a 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded Carson-Newman on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the 2011 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional softball tournament at Bears Field in Hickory, N.C.
With the loss, the Lady Eagles (39-16-1) fall into the loser's bracket and will face seventh-seeded USC Aiken in an elimination game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Armstrong Atlantic (31-12) advances to the winner's bracket final and will take on second-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne at 1:30 p.m.
"I thought we played well through six innings, and really you cannot take one half inning off when you are in regional play," C-N head coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "I don't think we went after them like we should have."
C-N had control of the contest after a two-run blast by freshman Sara Kelley (Birchwood, Tenn.) in the fourth inning gave the Lady Eagles a 2-0 advantage.
The Lady Eagles were one out away from advancing to the winner's bracket final, as the Pirates had a runner on first with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
However, April Jowers (Columbus, Ga.), the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year, kept Armstrong Atlantic alive by beating out the throw to first for a bunt single. After both runners advanced to second and third, respectively, on a wild pitch, freshman Erin Billingsley (Roswell, Ga.) lined a single to left field to drive in both runners to tie the contest at 2-2.
Senior Whitney Kee (Knoxville, Tenn.) gave C-N a solid start in the extra frame with a leadoff single, but the Lady Eagles were unable to muster any offense the remainder of the inning.
The Pirates then won the game in the home half of the eighth on Wilcox's single to left field.
C-N tallied seven hits on the day but left eight runners stranded, while the Pirates collected eight hits and left nine on base.
Senior Leah Price (Spring City, Tenn.) went 2-for-4 to lead the way for the Lady Eagles, while Kelley finished with a home run and two RBIs.
Jowers and Wilcoxe produced two hits apiece for the Pirates.
Armstrong Atlantic starting pitcher Megan Barnwell (Brooklet, Ga.) picked up the win in the circle. Barnwell (23-7) gave up two runs on seven hits and fanned eight batters in eight innings of work.
Lady Eagle starter Mary Shealy (Clinton, S.C.) was tagged with the loss. Shealy (36-14) surrendered two earned runs and eight hits and had four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings in the circle.