Special To The Times
The Cullman Times
Wallace State third baseman Kori Benson set the program’s single-season home run record on the last day of the regular season. None of those were as important as the freshman’s final dinger on Sunday. Benson’s three-run, walk-off homer sent the Lady Lions into a frenzy and catapulted Wallace State past arch-rival Shelton State 7-5 and into Monday’s Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament championship game.
Wallace State (49-11) plays the Shelton State-Southern Union winner at noon in Monday’s final. The Lady Lions are one win away from their second straight state championship, sixth in seven years and eighth overall.
Benson put on a power display in both of Wallace State’s wins on Sunday. She went 2 for 3 with a two-run blast in the Lady Lions’ 8-0 victory over Southern Union and finished 2 for 3 with a pair of homers and four RBIs against Shelton State.
Wallace State trailed Shelton State 1-0 in the fourth before Benson’s solo shot — her 19th — tied things up.
The Lady Lions eventually grabbed a 4-3 advantage in the sixth, but Shelton State pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, earning a 5-4 lead.
Wallace State had the final blow in the bottom of the seventh. Victoria Frith led off the inning with a single, and, two batters later, Paige Rowland drew a one-out walk. Benson then stepped up and drilled a 2-2 pitch into right-center field for her 20th homer of the season, ending the game in dramatic fashion.
Libby Olinger had a single and a pair of RBIs against Shelton State, Madeline Lee contributed a run-scoring single, Katie Gentle had a single and scored two runs, and Rowland and Laken Hancock each had a single.
In the five-inning rout against Southern Union, Gentle clubbed a pair of solo home runs. Olinger, Hancock and Maria Mitchell each had RBI singles, and Frith was 1 for 3.
Wallace State right-hander BreeAnna Blevins (23-5) notched victories in both games. She tossed a one-hit gem against Southern Union, striking out seven and walking two in five innings. She won the second game in relief, pitching 1/3 of an inning.
Lindsey DeFee started for Wallace State against the Lady Bucs and allowed five runs on 10 hits, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings.