Softball Stays Alive in OVC Tournament with Kuryllo's Walk-Off Home Run
May 14, 2011
By Jeff Honza
CHARLESTON, Ill. - Freshman catcher Shelby Kuryllo hit a three-run walk-off home run to give fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri (31-29) a 3-2 come-from-behind win over second-seeded Jacksonville State (38-19) Saturday night at the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
The Redhawks forced a winner-take-all meeting with JSU for the OVC Tournament crown Sunday at 9 a.m., CT.
Southeast trailed, 2-0, and had stranded five runners in scoring position before Kuryllo blasted her team-high ninth home run into the bleachers beyond the left field fence.
"It's unbelievable," said Southeast head coach Lana Richmond. "We just kept battling and these kids played hard. I'm so proud of this team."
OVC Co-Freshman of the Year Tiffany Harbin recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts, but that didn't stop the Redhawks from keeping their OVC Tournament title hopes alive.
JSU struck early in the first inning when Krystal Ruth led off with a single and came around to score with the help of back-to-back walks and a base hit.
Sallie Beth Burch then led off the fourth with a single to center and later touched home on a sacrifice fly to extend the Gamecocks lead to 2-0.
Southeast, after coming away empty with the bases loaded in the third, a runner on third with no outs in the fourth and two on with no outs in the sixth, finally broke through against Harbin in the seventh.
Alene Bethel delivered a huge one-out pinch-hit single out of the nine-hole to spark the Redhawks late surge. Evan Sallis followed with an infield single before Kuryllo sent everyone home with her big smash.
Taylor Cowan (6-7) went the distance, allowing six hits and two runs. Cowan also struck out two and walked four in her strong outing.
Harbin (24-10) scattered six hits and gave up three runs in 6.1 innings. She issued two walks, as well.
Southeast's defense, despite committing three errors, made some outstanding plays. Whitney Dupuis and Kaitlin Wallace each robbed JSU of base hits at key times in the game with their diving stabs at first and third base, respectively.
"Taylor and this Redhawk defense gave us a chance tonight," said Richmond. "They made big plays and gave us a lot of momentum."
Six different players also had a hit for JSU.
In addition, Kuryllo hit her second home run in the tournament when she elected to stay in the game after a foul ball hit her jaw in the fifth inning.
Southeast, which beat Eastern Illinois in a 10 a.m. matchup earlier Saturday, was initially supposed to face JSU approximately 35 minutes after that game. However, rain pushed the start time all the way back to 8 p.m.