Late fireworks power No. 10 Shorter to 8-2 win over Madonna
By Matt Green
GULF SHORES, Ala. – This Shorter squad wasn't the same Shorter squad Madonna and its star pitcher Hallie Minch had seen in March. One inning dismissed any hopes the Crusaders had of pulling off another upset of the Lady Hawks.
Maddie Bray struck out six in 4.2 innings, Charlsie Broome went 3-for-4 with an RBI and 10th-ranked Shorter put up six runs in the fifth inning to rally for an impressive 8-2 victory over Madonna in each team's second game of Pool G play at the NAIA Softball National Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Friday night.
The Lady Hawks, now 2-0 in pool play, will square off with defending national champion and No. 7-ranked Oregon Tech tomorrow at 3:30 pm ET for the Pool G title and a spot in the tournament's eight-team, double elimination championship bracket. Oregon Tech is also 2-0 after it nipped St. Gregory's 3-2 earlier on Friday.
To earn a chance to play for a third straight Elite Eight appearance, Shorter had to not only overcome an early deficit, but also a Madonna team that had shut out the Lady Hawks 4-0 back on March 9 during the Gulf Shores Invitational at the very same complex.
That day, Minch two-hit the Lady Hawks and the Crusaders hit three home runs against Shorter's tandem of Bray and Kayla Byrom en route to the upset.
Oh, what a difference two months makes.
A two-run bomb from Jackie Barley off Byrom put Madonna ahead 2-1 in the third, but that was the extent of the Crusaders' offense. Bray, who fanned seven in that first meeting with Madonna in March, entered the game following the home run and completely shut down the Crusaders, allowing just two hits over the final 4.2 innings with the help of the aforementioned six strikeouts.
Shorter got the offense it had been waiting for in the fifth.
With Minch having not given up a run since the Shorter first, Broome applied immediate pressure with a single to lead off the fifth frame. Shorter used an Amanda Dailey single and Emily Clements walk to load the bases with one out, and in an at-bat that may have shifted the momentum completely in Shorter's favor, Brooke Bryan drew a bases loaded walk on a 14-pitch at-bat that tied the game at 2 and left the bases loaded with one out.
Angela Pavilanis replaced Minch in the circle and got Bre Johnson to hit a ground ball towards second, but Kasey Trierweller couldn't haul in the grounder and her error allowed both Dailey and Clements to score to put Shorter up 4-2. Maddie Bray followed with a two-run single and Broome a seeing eye RBI hit through the hole at second to cap Shorter's six-run outburst and dig Madonna a 7-2 hole.
Dailey added her sixth home run of the season – her third of the postseason – to lead off the sixth and strike the final blow in a game where Shorter outhit the Crusaders 10-7 and played error-free softball.
The Lady Hawks led early when Clements stroked an RBI single to right that plated Broome in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead, but Minch, who ended up surrendering four earned runs on eight hits with three walks, held Shorter scoreless over the next three innings on just three hits until the offensive explosion by the Lady Hawks in the fifth.
Broome's three hits led all players while Dailey (2-for-4), Clements (2-for-3) and Bray (2-for-2) also recorded multiple hits for Shorter.
A win tomorrow, and Shorter would play for a national championship for a third straight season and would also secure a third straight top eight finish. The Lady Hawks placed fifth in 2010 and seventh last season.