BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Yawwwwwn, just another day at the office.
No. 1 Southeastern blanked No. 8 Ouachita Baptist 1-0 in eight innings to open play in the Great American Conference tournament.
Then, quite some time later, the Lady Storm beat No. 4 Harding University 3-1 in a game that started Thursday and ended early Friday morning. Like about a quarter to 1 a.m.
The Storm improved to 37-15 and will take on No. 2 Southern Arkansas (34-23) in a game laughingly scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Friday (today).
If you like pitching and defense, this was your piece of cake.
Ouachita Baptist had one runner reach third, Kailey Madden leading off in the top of the seventh.
The LadyStorm had a runner reach third, Laramie Beal on a throwing error by the OBU third baseman.
The Storm had a runner reach home plate in the eighth, pinch-runner Shayna Milam, on a squeeze bunt by pinch-hitter Rachel Jones to end an outstanding softball game.
Mindy McElroy took a shot off her leg in the fourth inning, picked up the ball and made the play at first on OBU’s three-hole hitter Kailey Madden, for the first out of the inning.
McElroy finished the game, a 3-hit gem that put the Storm in the eight o’clock game. In your dreams, anyway.
McElroy walked one and it was intentional, in the seventh. A grounder to Lacie Cook at third ended the inning.
OBU might have had something going after McElroy was hit in the fourth, but Haley Strawn came charging to make one of her patented scoop-and-throw head-shakers to get the second out and a fly to center ended the inning.
The Storm had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth when Sydney Kramer opened with a single, but was forced at second on Beal’s grounder to third. Strawn’s fielder’s choice sent Beal to third on the throwing error by Jessica Branam. A strikeout and a fly to right kept the LadyStorm off the board.
It all came down to the eighth inning and Southeastern was up to the task.
McElroy retired the Lady Tigers in order in the top of the eighth.
The Storm got a leadoff single from Lauren Renneker and Shawna Milam came on to run. Jessica Simmons worked a walk and Lacie Cook sacrificed both runners over.
With Milam at third and Simmons at second, Faubion went to his bench for his designated squeeze bunter, Rachel Jones, who took a strike, then dropped a bunt that allowed Milam to score and let Jones reach first, but nobody was counting runners at that time.
SE scored one run on five hits and no errors. OBU had no runs on three hits and one error.
Renneker was two for three to spark the Storm and it was her leadoff single in the eighth that started the winning rally.
Kramer, Courtney Riddle and Arianna Jones were one for three each for the winners.
The Lady Bisons broke the scoring ice with a run in the top of the fifth when a leadoff single, sac bunt, walk and throwing error allowed Brooklynn Moon to cross the plate and make it 1-0, HU.
That lead lasted until the bottom half of the inning. Arianna Jones drew a one-out walk and went all the way to third on McElroy’s single up the middle.
Enter Rachel Jones, designated squeeze bunter extraordinaire. Rachel Jones did her thing and Arianna Jones scored the tying run. Simmons delivered a fly ball to center field that drove in pinch-runner Shaina Crites to make it 2-1, Storm.
McElroy took over, retiring the last eight Lady Bisons and the Storm picked up an insurance run in the sixth.
Kramer led off with a triple and Beal doubled to drive in pinch-runner Shayna Milam with her second run of the day.
McElroy went the distance on a two-hitter with one walk and one strikeout to run her record to 23-7.
Beal paced the Storm with two for three and the RBI-double. McElroy was one for two and Kramer one for three with a triple.