ST. GEORGE, UTAH – Wallace State’s softball team lost a heart-breaker in their National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Championship opener late Wednesday night at the Canyons Complex, falling to Tyler Junior College, 6-5, in extra innings.
The 11th-seeded and scrappy Lions overcame early nerves and a 5-0 deficit to force extra frames. Wallace State scored three runs in the sixth and eventually forced extras with a two-out, pinch-hit homer by freshman Becca Feazell in the top of the seventh.
Tyler Junior College, the 6th seed, had the final answer on a walk-off double by Makenzie Goswick in the bottom of the eighth.
“The first inning was a big one. We had our opportunities and we didn’t capitalize on it. We have 16 players who have never set foot in this park and it showed early. Give props to Tyler College though. They drove in some runners early with some big hits and we didn’t,” said Wallace State coach A.J. Daugherty, who has led the program to consecutive tournament appearances. “I was proud of how we fought back. We are never out of the game. We have the tools to score so many ways. We are always going to have a chance to claw back and win the game.”
Despite stranding 11 runners throughout and committing three errors, Wallace State rallied to tie the game late.
The Lions plated three runs in the sixth. Tanner Robertson drove in the first run on a sacrifice bunt and Keeli Bobbitt and Alysia Anderson had consecutive RBI infield singles later in the inning.
Wallace State saved more theatrics for the top of the seventh.
With two outs and a 3-2 count, Feazell, a freshman from Southside, skied a two-run shot to left field, setting off a frenzy in the Wallace State dugout.
“I was proud of Becca. She ran into one and made an impact. We’ve talked a lot this season about the amount of quality depth we have. We have an embarrassment of riches at multiple positions, and we tell each player to be ready for your number to be called,” Daugherty said.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tyler’s Briana Paysinger led off with a single and came around to score the game-winning run on Goswick’s double.
For Wallace State, Charlee West was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, Katie Burden was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Sidney Edwards had a pair of hits, including a double, and scored a run and Bobbitt had a pair of singles and an RBI.
Caroline Burns added a double for the Lions and Morgan Weatherwax followed Ezell’s homer with a pinch-hit double.
Meagan Schwieterman earned the starting nod for Wallace State and allowed four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, striking out four.
Lauren Keplinger tossed the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits. She struck out three.
For Tyler, Goswick had three hits. Courtnie Heller hit a two-run homer.
The Apaches scored three runs in the first and added two more in fourth on Heller’s home run. They used three pitchers with Julia Knight earning the win in relief.
Wallace State’s season is still alive. The Lions play Lake Land (Ill.) College, the 14th seed, at 6 p.m. Central, in the double-elimination event.
“The message here is there’s nothing more we can do about this game. There’s going to be a 0-0 score when we show up on Thursday evening. If we go out there and do the things we’ve basically done since early March, we’ll have a chance to beat any team. We have to eliminate the errors on the routine plays we always make. It’s a brand new day and we’re good enough to win,” Daugherty said.
Wallace State softball is making its fourth consecutive national tournament appearance and 12th overall. The program has won national championships in 2008 and 2013.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit www.athletics.wallacestate.edu.
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