Special To The Times
The Cullman Times
ST. GEORGE, UTAH —
Wallace State is two wins away from the program’s second National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national softball title.
The Lady Lions exploded for a six-run fifth inning against Pima (Ariz.) CC in Friday’s championship bracket and held on for an 8-6 victory.
“We’ve been focused the entire tournament, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Wallace State coach Jayne Clem said. Everybody in the lineup decided to go to work against Pima. Their pitcher obviously thought she was a little better than she was. When we made up our mind to hit her, we made it count. If we hadn’t hit, we would have been in trouble late.”
With the game tied at 1-1, Wallace State sent 11 batters to the plate in the decisive sixth inning. Second baseman Madeline Lee led off the inning with a solo homer, giving the Lady Lions a 2-1 advantage. Libby Olinger and Maria Mitchell followed with consecutive singles and Brittany Gillison reached on an error to load the bases for Victoria Frith, who punched an RBI single to make it 3-1.
Shaq Morris followed with an RBI single and Katie Gentle added a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 5-1 before the first out was recorded.
Kori Benson added a two-run single later in the inning to push Wallace State’s lead to 7-1.
As Butler (Kan.) CC did on Thursday, Pima (48-18) battled back to give Wallace State a mini scare. The Aztecs scored three unearned runs in the sixth. After hitting a homer in the sixth, Pima’s Maria Alejandra Orti added a two-run single in the seventh with two outs, but was left stranded as BreeAnna Blevins got Shawna Comeaux to pop out to short to end the game.
Blevins (26-5) threw her 26th complete game of the season and won her second game in the tournament by allowing four earned runs. She struck out eight and walked three. Blevins also earned a save in the Lions’ 8-6 win over Butler on Thursday.
Benson paced Wallace State at the plate with a pair of hits, including her 22nd homer of the season, and three RBIs. Frith was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, and Morris was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Pima starter Yvette Alvarez was tagged for seven runs---six earned---on nine hits in five innings.
The Lions (53-11) advanced to play Salt Lake CC later in the NJCAA Division I championship bracket final. Check back later for a result and story.