Oxford, AL – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) softball team began Ohio Valley Conference Championship Tournament Wednesday, May 8th, at Choccolocco Park with a 4-2 victory over Belmont behind solid pitching, timely hitting and error less defense.
With the win, the third-seeded Governors (32-20) advance to Wednesday’s first winner’s bracket semifinal game, where they will face second-seeded Jacksonville State (34-13), at 9:00am
The Govs fell behind early, when starter Kelsey Gross (8-1) gave up a solo home run to the Bruins in the top of the second inning, but Austin Peay responded with two runs of it own in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead, 2-1.
Lexi Osowski and Gross would draw back-back one-out walks to get the rally started for the Govs, and after a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Drew Dudley drove both runners in with a two-out double to left field.
The Govs would add to their lead in the bottom of the third, scoring two more runs, with Danielle Liermann and Carly Mattson reaching base on back-to-back one out singles, followed by a double by Morgan Rackel off the first baseman’s glove – driving in pinch runner Natalie Schilling – with Mattson coming in when the ball off the first baseman’s glove went out of play.
That would be more than enough runs for the Govs pitching staff, with Gross only allowing one more run to the Bruins in the top of the fourth, before Rackel came in to pitch the final three innings — giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out three – to earn her second save of the season.
Inside the Boxscore
The win by the Govs was their 32nd of the season, tying for the second-most in a single season in program history.
Kacy Acree tied the program’s single season record for hits in a season with her 67th hit of the season, coming on a single in the bottom of the first inning.
With her two RBIs, Drew Dudley became the sixth player on this year’s squad to reach 20 RBIs for the season, the most players with 20 RBIs in the same season in program history.
Natalie Schilling reached 60-career stolen bases, with her third-inning steal.
With her third-inning single, Danielle Liermann has now reached base in 16 straight games, the seventh-longest such streak by a Govs player since 2000.
APSU Head Coach Kassie Stanfill Statements
On getting their tournament-opening win
“It was good to come out and get the win. I thought we came out with a good aggressive approach and had some good at bats. When we got runners on, we were able to move them around and get them in. Our pitching was solid, with Kelsey (Gross) coming out and throwing four good innings is her start, with Morgan (Rackel) coming in late to close things out. Defensively, we played all the plays behind our pitchers and didn’t commit an error.”
On facing Jacksonville State
“Jacksonville State is a quality program and a program that’s knows how to win. We split with them in the regular season and I think that will give our kids the confidence in knowing they can beat them if we come out and play the way they are capable of.”