LAGRANGE, Ga. -- The Meredith College softball Angels rallied to a 2-1 day-two record in the USA South Conference Tournament Saturday. Meredith edged Averett 6-5 to open the day, finished off Piedmont 9-1 in six innings, and rallied late in a 7-5 loss to Salem, eliminating the Avenging Angels from the tournament.
Today's wins marked the first league tournament victories for Head Coach Kim Scavone since her first season at Meredith in 2011, excluding the new divisional playoff series each of the last two years. The Avenging Angels advanced to the Spring Festival six-of-eight seasons under Scavone's direction.
Meredith entered the tournament as the East second-seed and swept East fifth-seed Ferrum at home last weekend to advance to the Spring Festival in LaGrange, Georgia. The Avenging Angels dropped to the loser's bracket with day-one's loss to West fourth-seed Covenant yesterday and faced an eager Averett Cougars squad this morning at 10 a.m.
Both teams scored early with Brittany Bucklin scoring Haley Ervin on a two-out, RBI-single in the top of the first. The Cougars responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. The Angels loaded the bases in the third and scored on a RBI-walk from Eran Artigues.
AU put two more on the board in the fifth with a two-RBI homer, but the advantage would not hold. In the sixth Meredith's six, seven, and eight loaded the bases with a hit apiece, and Erica Occena drove in two with a single to left. Charley Cox scored on a wild pitch, and Kelsey Mabe scored Occena for a 6-4 Meredith lead. The Cougars would score one more in the seventh, but Allsbrook closed out the game on an unassisted putout for the win.
The Angels held steady for a 1:40 p.m. start versus the West second-seed Lions, scoring one run in each of the first three frames for a 3-1 lead. But Meredith's bats fired up in the fifth with Sarah Watson drilling a double to center. Artigues drove in Watson on a two-RBI single, and the Angels picked up a second with an assist from the Lions' infield.
Meredith nearly batted through the lineup in the sixth to score four more runs with four hits. Myah Morse struck out the first and last batter in the bottom of the frame, as the Angels knocked out Piedmont with an inning to spare.
With confidence building and momentum in hand, the Avenging Angels faced the East top-seed Salem Spirits in a 3:40 p.m. matchup for a chance at the Championship round. Salem took the lead early with a pair of runs in the first.
Meredith put one on in the bottom of the frame, but Miranda Barker struck out four of the next seven batters to hold back the Angels through three. Salem pounded MC's defense in the fourth to advance their lead to six and held onto the advantage until Allsbrook finally broke through with an RBI-single in the sixth.
The Avenging Angels returned to the dugout in the bottom of the seventh needing six runs to stay alive, and the team worked hard to make it happen. Rachel Peel led off with a single, but her pinch runner Bryce Smith was put out on the next at-bat. With Occena on first, Mabe advanced the runner with a hit through the left, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Katie Kepley earned a walk to load the bases, and Watson scored two with a single to left. Bucklin earned an infield single to re-load the bases with just one out on the board, and Artigues sent another runner home. With one out Allsbrook scored Watson on a sac-fly to keep the rally going, but an infield pop fly ended the run with the win in favor of Salem.
Taylor Jackson went one-for-one on the day pitching two complete games for the Angels. She struck out seven and walked 11 to finish 15-8 on the day. Morse pitched to the Lions allowing five hits with one earned run, three walks, striking out three.
The Avenging Angels push their season into next weekend, first to Pfeiffer for a doubleheader versus the USA South newcomer Friday, April 20. Meredith then heads to Greensboro to complete February's suspended game at Guilford. The teams will play a second game without seniors to preview the coming year.