Softball’s Magical Run Through SCAC Tournament Comes to Close
Softball finished the weekend 3-2 to finish the season above .500 and the second-biggest increase in wins in NCAA Division III in 2016.
Softball’s Magical Run Through SCAC Tournament Comes to Close
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Schreiner (9-31)
Centenary (22-21)
4/23/2016 | San Antonio, Texas | Attendance: 75
Win: Nichole Aldridge (11-13) 7.052212
Loss: Jessica Vrana (6-19) 6.054121
Alyssa Maki (SCH-SB) 312000
Emily Sexton (CENTSOFT) 311000
Lizzie Moran (CENTSOFT) 301100
Michelle Tasin (CENTSOFT) 211000
Margeaux Smith (CENTSOFT) 311000
Haley Miller (CENTSOFT) 201100

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Ladies may have come up short in a bid to win the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, but the Maroon and White sure made their stay a memorable one.

Fifth-seeded Centenary (23-22) knocked out sixth-seeded Schreiner (9-31) 4-2 and third-seeded Dallas (21-23) 9-0 before falling to top-seeded Texas Lutheran (41-3) 10-2 in six innings in the second day of the SCAC Tournament Saturday, April 23, hosted  by Trinity in San Antonio, Texas.

“I believe that we have laid a solid foundation upon which we can continue to build a successful softball program,” said head coach Mark Suire. “We certainly made significant progress this season, but there is still work to do to reach our full potential. Our success this season is not an end result, but a starting point for future success.”

Centenary and eventual champion Texas Lutheran both led the tournament by finishing a pair of team’s seasons. With the Ladies finishing third, freshmen Nichole Aldridge (pitcher) and Margeaux Smith (designated player) were both named to the SCAC All-Tournament team.

“This weekend means that if we continue to work and improve, then we have a chance to be successful in the future,” explained Suire. “We do have a good group of returners, but we also have a talented group of recruits coming in who will push our current players to be better.”

As was the case in the win against Southwestern on Friday, the Ladies made the Mountaineers and Lady Crusaders pay for their errors. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, senior Emily Sexton doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on junior Lizzie Moran’s single.

The Ladies took the lead in the second when with one out, sophomore Anna Dunn walked, moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt, stole third, and scored on sophomore Haley Miller’s single.

After allowing a run to score in the first after a lead-off double by Alyssa Maki, a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Aldridge (12-14) allowed only one more run on four hits and a walk the rest of the way. Three of the hits and the walk came in the inning Schreiner scored a run to cut the lead to 4-2.

Centenary built a 4-1 lead after three. With one out, sophomore Michelle Tasin singled and advanced to second on freshman Wendy Gillet’s walk. A fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, and Smith stole second. An error off the bat of junior Mallory Ford allowed Tasin to score. Ford then got in a run down and was tagged out, but she stayed alive just long enough to allow Smith to score from third.

Schreiner put the tying run on base in the fourth, but could only squeeze across one run. Loading the bases with one out, Samantha Hernandez singled home a run to cut the deficit to two and put the go-ahead run on base. However, Kaycee Govett lined out to Tasin, who flipped to first and caught Hernandez off the bag to end the final Schreiner threat.

Neither team scored the final three innings as Centenary survived its first elimination game. Jessica Vrana (6-19) took the loss for the Mountaineers, allowing five hits and four runs (one earned) in six innings of work.

Game two left nothing to doubt early, as the Maroon and White again capitalized on miscues. Sexton reached on an error to kickoff the game and advanced to second on a passed ball. Moran hit an infield single to shortstop to put runners on the corners, before Gillet grounded into a fielder’s choice RBI. However, no runners were out as a throwing error Moran to move all the way to third. Moran then ran into a rundown between third and home, but Gillet motored all the way to third. An infield single by Smith put the Ladies up 2-0.

Dallas lone threatcame in the bottom of the first, when with two outs, an Lyda Tesauro and Erin Begle single put runners on the corners. However, Aldridge got the strikeout to end the threat.

No Lady Crusaders runner advanced past second the rest of the game.

Centenary blew the game open with five in the third. With one out, Miller walked and Sexton singled. Sophomore pinch hitter Raney Mixon walked to load the bases, and singles by Tasin, Gillet and Smith allowed Centenary to move up one base each and score three runs. Ford hit a comebacker to the pitcher, but it was mishandled to allow the fourth run of the inning to score. Another error allowed Gillet to score the final run of the inning.

The Ladies capped the game when an RBI groundout by Smith and an RBI base knock by Ford produced two more runs in the seventh.

Smith went 3-for-5 with three RBI’s while Tasin went 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI to lead Centenary from the plate. Aldridge allowed just four hits with four strikeouts in the circle for the Ladies, pitching six innings. Freshman Lauren Beadle allowed a single hit in relief in the seventh for the Ladies.

Paige Parks (5-9) took the loss for Dallas, allowing seven hits and seven runs (four earned) with four walks in 3.1 innings of work. However, the Achilles’ heel for the Lady Crusaders was their sloppy defense, as they committed five errors.

After Trinity surprised Texas Lutheran with a 4-3, 10-inning win earlier on Saturday, the Ladies were tasked with a tall order in facing #4 Texas Lutheran for the second time on the weekend in the Ladies third game of the day on Saturday.

Aldridge also started her third game of the day in the circle.

This time around against the Bulldogs, Centenary struck first with another unearned run. With two down, an error and singles by Gillet, Smith and Ford scored the first run of the game in the top of the first. Texas Lutheran scored a pair in the bottom of the frame, but the Ladies answered right back in the second. Freshman Kylie Bradley singled to leadoff the inning and advanced to second on a bunt. Sexton and Moran followed with singles to tie the game.

While Aldridge retired the side in order in the second, she showed fatigue as she allowed two in the third, and one each in the fourth and fifth. Grace Estes singled to lead off the third for the Bulldogs and scored on Jennifer Gallager’s triple. Taylor Yancey singled to put Texas Lutheran up 4-2 after three innings.

Ford and Moran led Centenary in the series finale by going 2-for-3 from the plate with an RBI. Aldridge took the loss, allowing 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) in 5.2 innings of work.

Texas Lutheran was led by Estes’ 3-for-4 day from the plate with two runs. Veny Pizana recorded the win in relief, allowing just three hits in the final 4.2 innings of work.

With two outs and a runner on in the sixth, Aldridge was pulled for freshman Kelcie Bourgeois. She allowed a pair of walks to load the bases, and classmate Mackenzie Stewart took the circle. She allowed two to score on a double to Nichole Snow, and Kaymee Gooden ended the Ladies season with a two-RBI single.

Centenary finished the season 23-22. Its 16-win improvement ranks second in NCAA Division III this year. Aldridge made the All-Tournament team, finishing with a 3-1 record and a 2.45 ERA, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on 24 hits with 13 strikeouts and two complete games over the course of the tournament. Smith went 9-for-17 with six RBI’s and two runs scored to also capture All-Tournament honors.