Cumberland stranded six runners in the first six innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth, and 15th-ranked Spring Hill College added four runs in the sixth en route to a 6-0 victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday in the NAIA Championship Opening Round at the Richard Gray Sports Complex in Hardeeville.
Spring Hill (43-15) advances to Wednesday’s noon championship game with USC Beaufort. Should Spring Hill win, the Badgers must win a second time to advance to the NAIA National Championship in Columbus, Ga.
With the loss, the season ends for the Bulldogs (37-22) after their first appearance in the national tournament.
Allison Blackwood, Megan Lavery and Kaleigh Pearce all singled for the Bulldogs, but CU was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the contest, missing several chances to score in what was a 2-0 game until the bottom of the sixth.
Caroline Curran (7-4) pitched well in defeat for CU, allowing three runs on eight hits in five-plus innings. She walked one and struck out two. Spring Hill's Caroline Segrara (33-9) tossed a three-hitter against the Bulldogs, walking one and striking out 11. It was her 17th shutout of the season, as she passed the 400-strikeout plateau earlier in the day.
The Badgers took an early lead with two runs in the second inning, as Taylor Webre led off with a single and Taylor Lahansky was hit with one out. Both runners moved up on a fly out by Elise de Bruler before a two-run single to center from Raleigh Downs put Spring Hill ahead.
Cumberland loaded the bases in the fourth with a leadoff single from Lavery and an error on Spring Hill center fielder Webre, allowing Blackwood to reach. Jessica Roper walked with one out, but Kacy Hobbs and Shawnee Kirk both struck out to end the threat with the Bulldogs still trailing, 2-0.
In the fifth Pearce led off with a single to left and went to second on Devon Jamerson's bunt. Natalie Garcia fouled out and Lavery grounded out to end the inning.
Downs led off the bottom of the inning with a single to left and a bunt by Sam Leach found a hole for an infield single, but Curran worked out of the jam, as Shea Blanchard lined into a doubleplay and Roper gunned down Leach trying to steal second to end the inning.
Cumberland had another chance in the sixth with a leadoff single by Blackwood. Pinch-runner Courtney White moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout by Roper before Hobbs popped out to end the inning, the sixth runner stranded for the Bulldogs in the game.
Spring Hill broke the game open with four runs in the sixth, starting with a walk to Webre, which ended the day for Curran. Katelyn Hinson beat out an infield single on a diving play at third by Hobbs and the runners moved up on a groundout by Lahansky.
A single through the left side from de Bruler scored two runs, the second one after the ball caromed off the feet of shortstop Pearce deep in the hole. Downs then drew a walk and Leach followed with a two-run double to rightcenter for a 6-0 SHC lead.
Cumberland 10, Virginia Intermont 3
An eight-run sixth inning broke open a close game as Cumberland (Tenn.) rallied to eliminate Virginia Intermont and stay alive in the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round USC Beaufort Bracket on Tuesday.
Natalie Garcia’s two-run homer to right-center put the Bulldogs (37-21) ahead, and Jessica Roper added a two-run blast later in the big inning to help Cumberland stave off elimination.
The rally made a winner of reliever Courtney Maynard (20-10), who pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jessica Lozano.
The Cobras (36-14) took an early lead on Micalah Sacre’s leadoff homer to center, only to see Cumberland tie it in the bottom of the frame on Sydney Broderick’s RBI single. Both teams scored again in the third, as Virginia Intermont regained the lead on a throwing error, but Kacy Hobbs knotted it with a solo shot to left-center in the bottom of the inning.
Virginia Intermont moved back in front with a heads-up base-running play by Krystle Brenneman in the fifth but couldn’t hold the lead, as the Bulldogs sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth to break it open.
Reliever Bailee Packett (8-6) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) in 1 1/3 innings.