Softball Falls in OVC Tournament Championship to Jacksonville State, 9-5
May 15, 2011
By Jeff Honza
CHARLESTON, Ill. - Fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri (31-30) brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning, but came up short in a 9-5 loss to second-seeded Jacksonville State (39-19) Sunday morning in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship.
JSU won its second-straight OVC Tournament title and third in the last four years. The Gamecocks also clinched the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Like every game during its magical 2011 OVC Tournament run, Southeast fought until the bitter end.
The Redhawks trailed, 9-3, entering their final at-bat in the seventh inning when Shelby Kuryllo sent a late charge into her team with a leadoff single to left. After Carmen Fowler lined out to short, Renee Kertz singled and Southeast had runners at first and second with one away. Taylor Cowan walked to load the bases and Nicole Troncoso drew a bases on balls, scoring Kuryllo.
Moments after Cheyenne Gipson hit into a fielder's choice, Kaitlin Wallace kept the rally alive with a walk to bring home pinch-runner Renee Terry. Shelby Stein, who represented the tying run, then grounded out to second to end the game.
"I think the seventh inning said a lot about our team," said Southeast head coach Lana Richmond. "We battled every game of this tournament and never gave up. It was a great run."
Southeast took an early 1-0 lead in the first when Evan Sallis singled, went to second on a base hit by Kuryllo and touched home on a sacrifice fly by Fowler.
JSU then batted around to score four runs in each of the first and third innings to pull away from the Redhawks.
The Gamecocks loaded the bases and capitalized on four walks and two hits in the first.
Two innings later, JSU added four more runs on four hits, as Sallie Beth Burch, Kaycee Crow, Abbey Stepp and Hayden Crawford each reached safely and scored. Crawford's line drive went off the leg of Southeast reliever Alora Marble. Marble was forced to leave the game after the play.
Crawford capped JSU's scoring when she touched home on a wild pitch in the fifth.
Southeast outhit the league's top hitting team, 11-7. Kuryllo went 3-for-4 with a run scored and one RBI, while Sallis and Kertz followed with two hits apiece. Kuryllo played today's championship game with a swollen jaw after being hit in the face with a foul ball in Saturday night's matchup against the Gamecocks.
Krystal Ruth went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI at the top of JSU's lineup. Burch, Crow and Crawford each scored two runs.
Hilary Phillips (7-0) remained undefeated after giving up four runs and nine hits in 6.2 innings of relief. Phillips also struck out two and walked three.
Cowan (6-8) suffered the loss for Southeast. She allowed four runs, two hits and issued four walks in two-thirds of an inning.
In addition, Southeast left 10 runners on base, eight of which were in scoring position.
Sallis, Kuryllo and Marble were named to the OVC All-Tournament Team. Sallis hit .455 (10-for-22) with five runs scored, a triple, two RBI, a .545 slugging percentage and .478 on-base percentage in Southeast's six tournament games. Kuryllo followed, hitting .421 (8-of-19) with three runs scored, two home runs, six RBI and a .737 slugging percentage. Marble finished her first career OVC Tournament with a 3-1 record and 2.40 ERA. She tossed three complete games, one shutout and struck out nine in 23.1 innings.
JSU pitcher Tiffany Harbin was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
The Redhawks end their 2011 season with an overall record of 31-30.