LAKE CHARLES, LA (Press Release)- The Stephen F. Austin softball team completed one of the biggest comebacks in Southland Conference Tournament history on Thursday afternoon at Cowgirl Field, scoring 11 runs in the seventh inning to rally past rival Sam Houston State 14-11 in dramatic fashion.
The Ladyjacks will advance to play Nicholls later on Thursday evening while the Bearkats have been eliminated.
Trailing 10-3 heading into the seventh and final inning, the Ladyjacks stormed back with 11 runs on eight hits to take their first lead of the game, 14-10. Nine of the 11 runs scored during the rally came with two outs.
Sophomore outfielder Annie Mehringer started the comeback charge with a two-run home run deep to left field. Her one-out blast was her second of the tournament and sixth overall on the year. It put SFA within five at 10-5.
Later in the frame with two away, Courtney Chambers drove a ball through the left side to plate Faith Talley, and Autumn Holloway sent Lindsay Campbell in to score on a single up the middle. The Bearkats chose to pitch cautiously to Brittany Lewis with the bases loaded and she took her RBI walk to cut into the SHSU lead, 10-8.
In the next at-bat, junior all-conference third baseman Taylor LeFlore pushed a single out to left to bring in two more runs and help SFA tie the game at 10-10. Mehringer then walked to reload the bases and Talley earned another free pass to bring the go-ahead run home.
The Ladyjacks weren't done there. Taylor Fraccastoro hit a bases-clearing bullet down the right field line to extend the SFA lead to 14-10. The three-RBI hit proved to be the game-winner.
The Bearkats scored one run in the bottom of the seventh but sophomore pitcher Callee Guffey was able to put the finishing touches on a comeback for the ages.
All nine starting position players scored at least one run for the Ladyjacks on the day while the heart of the order was the fuel behind the offensive attack. LeFlore, Mehringer, Talley and Fraccastoro combined to go 6-for-13 with eight runs and 11 RBI.
Fraccastoro put the Ladyjacks on the board in the second inning with a leadoff solo home run to left center field. Her seventh home run of the year and second in as many games helped SFA pull within one of SHSU at 2-1.
The Bearkats hit a grand slam in the third to go up 6-1 but Talley provided life for SFA with two away in the fifth inning. The freshman ripped a two-run double through the gap in right center and all the way to the fence to cut the SHSU edge to 6-3. Lewis sliced a single through the right side and Mehringer walked to put ducks on the pond for Talley.
SHSU tacked on four unearned runs in the sixth before SFA erased the 10-3 deficit in the seventh.
Of the 11 SHSU runs scored on the afternoon, only three were earned as SFA committed four errors. Guffey started and finished in the circle, tossing 3.2 innings while giving up six runs – two earned – on seven hits.
Sophomore Makayla Sikes (W, 8-12) picked up the win with 3.1 strong innings out of the bullpen. She was charged with five runs, while only one was earned, and struck out four.