Special to The Times
The Cullman Times
Wallace State softball coach Jayne Clem has achieved another milestone, collecting her 700th career win Thursday night, as the Lady Lions slugged their way to a doubleheader sweep over Calhoun, winning 9-1 and 12-3.
Clem, in her 14th season with the program, currently has a 700-174 career record with Wallace State and has guided the Lions to a NJCAA Division I national championship (2008), two national runner-up finishes (2009, 2010) and a third-place finish last season. Wallace State has won seven state championships, including five of the last six, during Clem’s tenure, and she has been named conference coach of the year 10 times.
“That number (700) wouldn’t be possible if not for the quality players who have come through here. Each year we have players who continue to step up and carry the tradition. It’s an honor and privilege to coach at Wallace State,” Clem said. “Our players always do what they are supposed to do. They behave and make good grades, and it’s just a pleasure to work with them.”
Clem was more pleased with her team’s offensive outburst Thursday than she was with reaching 700 wins. Wallace State whacked three homers in the first game, and Madeline Lee’s three-run shot ended the nightcap by mercy rule.
Paige Rowland, Katie Gentle and Kori Benson each homered in the opener.
“We’ve hit a lot of home runs this season, but not a lot have been in the clutch. Today’s homers were in the clutch, and that’s what we are capable of. We can do that throughout the entire lineup. If there hasn’t been any pressure, we’ve been fine. We’ve got to continue to find a way to come through with clutch hits under pressure,” Clem said.
In the opener, Wallace State (38-9, 8-3 Alabama Community College Conference) scored a pair of runs in the first inning on Rowland’s two-run shot — her eighth of the season.
The Lady Lions added five more in the third, all scored by the long ball. Gentle’s three-run shot extended Wallace State’s lead to 5-1, and two batters later, Benson smacked a two-run homer to make it 7-1. It was Gentle’s 11th homer of the season and Benson’s 13th.
Benson added an RBI single in the sixth, Victoria Frith was 2 for 2 with a pair of runs scored, and Laken Hancock was 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Brittany Gillison capped the win, by mercy rule in the sixth, with a walk-off walk.
Wallace State right-hander BreeAnna Blevins (17-4) was the winning pitcher. She allowed one run on three hits, walked four and struck out four.
In the nightcap, Lee also added a run-scoring double and finished with four RBIs.
Benson finished 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, Rowland finished with two doubles, a sacrifice fly and four RBIs, Frith and Maria Mitchell each added a pair of singles, Gentle had a single and scored two runs, and Hancock finished with a double, RBI and run scored.
Lindsey DeFee (17-4) earned the win on the mound, tossing five scoreless innings. She yielded only two hits and recorded four strikeouts.
Kelsey King pitched one inning in the second game.
Wallace State resumes home conference play Saturday as Snead State visits for a doubleheader, beginning at 2 p.m. All proceeds from Saturday’s softball and baseball games will be donated to research for breast cancer awareness.
Additionally, the Lady Lions will host Shelton State at 2 p.m. on Sunday.