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Stillman College makes HBCU history in NAIA softball tournament

Three runs in the fifth and sixth innings propelled Stillman College into the record books in a 7-3 victory over  Indiana University Southeast at the NAIA Opening Round.

It was not only a historic win as Stillman’s first NAIA tournament victory in program history, but the first-ever victory by an in the NAIA softball tournament.

Stillman (36-13) also matches its single-season program wins record set last year.

“The girls were excited. When we finally got here yesterday, some of the nerves went away. I had a feeling we might start a little slow this morning, and we did, but it’s great to be here. Like we keep preaching, we’re not here to just play two games, and obviously, we’re not now,” said Joel Penfield, Stillman’s head coach.

Next will be top-seeded and NAIA No. 7 Jessup University (36-9) of Rocklin, California. The game will start at 1 p.m. Tuesday at William Carey University’s Joseph & Nancy Fail Field.

“We’re Stillman. It doesn’t matter who they are, we just have to go play our game. That’s the way we’ve always been,” Penfield said. “It’s going to be a fight. We’re looking forward to it.”

The Grenadiers fought early Monday, scoring an unearned run off Tiger starter Lexi McCray in the second inning and an earned run in the third inning for a 2-0 lead. Cassi Roman and Erin Templeman collected an RBI.

Ivey Moerland led off the top of the third inning and dove into the first base bag to beat out Stillman’s first game hit, but the runner was left stranded. The Tigers’ first run did not come until the top of the fourth when Anniston Jones drew a leadoff walk and scored on a Karli Davidson sac fly to the left.

The Tigers’ bats came alive with three runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Katelyn Lankford singled up the middle to start the fifth and was run for by Katelynn Madison. Lauren Haskins later beat out a one-out bunt single. A wild throw advanced both runners into scoring position to set up a sac squeeze by Jones to tie the game, 2-2. Haskins later scored when Bailie Seales scored on an error at third, followed by an RBI single by Madison Bubel to put the Tigers in front, 4-2.

Indiana University Southeast scratched back a run at the bottom of the fifth on an Autumn Oehlstrom RBI single. McCray (16-5) exited the game in position for the win with only one earned run among three total allowed. She gave up five hits and three walks through 4.1 innings.

Stillman pushed across three more runs in the top of the sixth on a Haskins two-run double and RBI single by Jones. Haskins and Jones finished the game with two RBI apiece, while Haskins and Bubel each had two hits to lead the Tigers’ offense.

Jasmine Wade pitched the final 2.2 scoreless innings to shut down IUS, allowing only one hit for her third save.

Courtesy: Stillman College Athletics 

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