CLINTON, Mississippi- A day that began with a loss ended with a win, as the UMHB softball team kept its season alive at the ASC Tournament on Friday.
After taking a 2-0 loss in its first game of the tournament to East Texas Baptist (ETBU), the No. 2 seed out of the East Division and eighth-ranked team in the nation, the Cru battled back to defeat Belhaven 7-5 in an elimination game. Belhaven was the tournament host, as the top seed in the East Division and No. 7 team in the country entering the week.
The Cru will now turn its attention to a duel with Hardin-Simmons on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. CT. The winner will play at 2:00 p.m. CT for the conference title against ETBU. The loser will be sent home, eliminated from the tournament.
As the No. 1 seed out of the West Division, UMHB had a bye on day one, and shook off the rust early against the Tigers. The contest was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings, as neither team scored and only five hits were tallied.
The only offense came in the sixth, as ETBU scored two runs. Hannah Garcia doubled to left field to open the inning and scored the only run the Tigers needed with one out, when she crossed the plate on an error by UMHB pitcher Bayleigh Grogan.
Aside for the sixth inning, Grogan was dominant in the circle, as the sophomore tossed a complete game, allowing seven hits, two walks, and zero earned runs. Both runs came as a result of Grogan’s error, and were not charged to her stat line as earned runs.
But on the other side, ETBU’s Ashley Croft was even more on point, firing a one-hitter in the complete game shutout performance and moved to 9-0 on the year.
For UMHB, there was little time to focus on the loss, as the Cru looked ahead to the must-win contest later in the afternoon against Belhaven. The Blazers were upset by No. 7 seed Hardin-Simmons on Friday morning.
With both teams fighting to keep their seasons alive, a hard-fought battle ensued. After Belhaven scored two runs off UMHB starter Camryn Rucker in the first inning, the Crusaders countered by pushing across four of their own in the second.
All four runs scored with two outs, the highlight coming when shortstop Milly Cesare singled and gave UMHB its first lead of the contest as runners scored from second and third.
A three-run outburst in the third followed, as the visitors from Belton added to their lead.
Belhaven mounted a rally in the fifth and sixth innings, scoring three runs to cut into the deficit. But Grogan, who fired 2.2 innings of relief, shut the Blazers down in the seventh, with a three-up, three-down frame.
Second baseman Elissa Elliott was the only Crusader to tally at least one hit in both contests, as she went 1-for-3 against ETBU and 2-for-4 in the win over Belhaven.