ST. GEORGE, UT (News Release) – Extra innings? Why not? Nothing else about this trip had gone as scheduled.
A bone-tired Angelina College Lady Roadrunner softball team, still sleep-walking following a 39-hour journey just to get here, took the 7th-seeded team from Southern Union State to extra innings, with AC getting an RBI single from Taylor Harper in the ninth to win 7-6 in the opening round of the NJCAA World Series in St. George, Utah.
After sleeping in the Houston airport on Tuesday and finally arriving in St. George at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Lady ‘Runners had accumulated all of 10 hours of sleep over those two days. That could have been part of the reason for a sluggish start to Wednesday's opening game: The Lady ‘Runners committed several errors early and couldn't capitalize on scoring opportunities in the first five innings, eventually falling behind 6-2.
"We're tired, and our bats are really slow," head coach Mark Mattson said after the fifth.
But as they have all season long, the Lady ‘Runners rallied late, scoring four runs in the sixth to tie the game. Tessa Thomas – who went 3-for-4 for the game – knocked in two runs with a double to the gap and scored ahead of Kassie James' single, and Katelyn Barker scored on a Lady Bison error.
Southern Union threatened a walk-off win in the bottom halves of the seventh and eighth, getting the leadoff hitters aboard in each frame, but the AC defense converted line drives into double plays in both innings.
Finally, in the ninth, Sage Martinez rocked a double off the top of the centerfield fence, missing a solo homer by mere inches. Melissa Boland bunted Martinez to third, and Harper came through with a line drive to right to score Martinez. In the Southern Union half of the ninth, AC pitcher Samantha Moore calmly notched a 1-2-3 inning, capped by catcher Tessa Thomas' crashing into the backstop wall for a game-ending catch on a foul pop. That wasn't the first spectacular defensive play: Trina Deyo turned in three web gems in left field, and Katelyn Barker picked a ball off the top of the wall to save an extra-base hit in the sixth.
The Lady ‘Runners will now take on 15th-seeded Jefferson College, which beat the No. 2 seed Southern Idaho 4-1.
Thursday's game will start at 5 p.m.