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The Central Methodist Softball program clinched a spot in the NAIA Softball World Series with a thrilling extra-innings victory over Freed-Hardeman in the Opening Round Championship of the Henderson …
The Central Methodist Softball program clinched a spot in the NAIA Softball World Series with a thrilling extra-innings victory over Freed-Hardeman in the Opening Round Championship of the Henderson Bracket Wednesday afternoon.
The Eagles knocked off the host school by a final score of 6-4 in a 10-inning ball game.
Central needed just one win in the double-elimination tournament to secure a world series berth.
All signs pointed towards a trip to Georgia for the Eagles beginning in the first inning. A sacrifice fly from Elizabeth Palumbo to score Kelena Oots plated the game’s first run in the opening frame. The Lions tied the game on a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. But Central answered right back with an RBI single from Katelyn Kiser in the fourth to put the Eagles back out in front, 2-1.
In the next inning, freshman Kaysie Jolley homered to center field to score two runs and push CMU’s lead to 4-1.
Central maintained that lead until the bottom of the seventh, where the Lions clawed their way back to score three runs and tie the game at 4-4.
The score remained deadlocked at 4-4 until an RBI single from freshman Madison Roberts scored Oots in the 10th inning. Lauren Hill then forced a bases-loaded walk to put Central up 6-4.
In the bottom of the 10th, Haley Cotter retired the side in order to send Central to its first World Series berth since the 2015 season.
Roberts led the Eagle bats with five hits in six plate appearances, followed by Jolley, who picked up four hits, including a two-run home run. Roberts and Jolley each doubled. Palumbo, Hill, and Kiser each drove in one run. Altogether, Central plated six runs on 15 hits and six walks.
Despite finishing with a game-high 15 hits, Central also stranded 16 batters. The Lady Eagles struck out only three times and finished the game with six walks.
Fayette’s own Jordyn Ball allowed just one earned run on six hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in 4.1 innings of work. Of her 66 pitches thrown against 19 batters, 46 went for strikes.
Haile Farris came in relief in the middle innings before Cotter pushed Central across the finish line in the latter stages of the game and extra innings. Farris allowed three earned runs on five hits and a walk. Cotter allowed just three runners on base off two hits and a walk but gave up no runs. She retired three batters on strikes.
Freed-Hardeman starter, Chloe Winters, lasted just two innings in the pitching circle after surrendering one earned run on four hits with a pair of walks. Brittany Adair took the loss after allowing five earned runs on 11 hits in eight innings.
Cotter earned her eighth win of the year, tossing four scoreless frames with three strikeouts.
The win over Freed-Hardeman clinched Central’s fourth World Series berth in program history.
CMU, seeded eighth, will take on familiar foe and fellow Heart institution Baker University, the ninth seed, in the opening round of the World Series at noon on Thursday in Columbus, Georgia. The winner will face No. 1 seed Oregon Tech on Friday.
Thursday’s opening-round game will not be televised but may be viewed via a paid live stream at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/naia/.
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