Texas Southern 6, Alabama State 4
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Texas Southern claimed its third SWAC championship in four seasons with a 6-4 victory over defending champion Alabama State in the finals of the 2017 SWAC Softball Tournament.
The Lady Hornets (21-33) wasted no time jumping ahead as Laura Aguilar reached on an error and Perry Hindi scored her on a RBI double. However, Kendall Core and Hindi were stranded on base after a Charlene Castro fly out.
Texas Southern took control in the second with small ball, as the Lady Tigers loaded the bases and Kelsey Riley laid down a bunt single to drive in Dominique Tello, who led off the inning with a single. Heaven Benavidez drew a bases-loaded walk to give TSU the lead, and a fielder’s choice squeezed in a run, making it 3-1 Lady Tigers.
ASU scrapped one back in the third thanks to a Hindi RBI sac fly, but the Lady Hornets squandered a bases-loaded opportunity with fly outs to end the inning. Jocilynn Ellis pushed Texas Southern (25-19) ahead 4-2 with a RBI single, but the Lady Hornets tied the contest with a Core RBI sac fly and a Hindi RBI single.
In the fifth, the Lady Tigers again regained the lead as a Marissa Padron RBI double brought home Tello, and Eliis singled to bring Terren Vinson across home plate. However, the Lady Tigers left two on base to end the inning. From there, Lauren Rodriguez and the Lady Tiger defense did the rest, retiring the Lady Hornets 1-2-3 in the final inning.
Rodriguez, who was named tournament most valuable player, earned her second victory over the Lady Hornets in the tournament, allowing eight hits and two earned runs. Tello was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and Ellis was 2-for-2 with two RBI.
Hindi had three RBI, going 2-for-3 at the plate. The All-Tournament Team is listed below.
Alabama State 7, Texas Southern 6 (Game One)
Game one saw Alabama State’s defense nearly squander a 7-1 seventh-inning lead, as an error-filled frame allowed the Lady Tigers life. After loading the bases, Texas Southern drew within one when Core airmailed a potential game-ending throw to first that brought all runners home.
However, a grounder back to reliever Castro – who allowed three runs (none earned) despite no hits in a three-error inning in her appearance – allowed the Lady Hornets to survive.
Core narrowly missed a home run in the first, sending a double to the centerfield wall to bring home Aguilar for a 1-0 lead. The defending champions put together a threat against TSU starter Jasmin Fulmore in the second, loading the bags before Brittney Wilson (3-for-3, 2 RBI) dropped a single in shallow center to score pinch-runner Amira James.In the third, Texas Southern took advantage of a Lady Hornet miscue to tack a run on, as Benavidez reached on an error that allowed Ellis to score.
With neither side doing much during the middle innings, the Lady Hornets put a chance together in the sixth as Alexia Boggess doubled to right, but Boggess was thrown out at home during a single by Wilson. After runners got on the corners thanks to a fielding error, Therese Byrne ripped a RBI single to add to Alabama State’s lead.
In the seventh Diauna Nelson smacked a two-run double to left center, and Wilson brought her home with a double to right that was lost in the sun to make the game 7-1 Lady Hornets before TSU’s comeback fell short.
Fulmore received the loss, allowing 15 hits and six earned runs while fanning six. Valdez was 0-for-4, but drove in three runs. Vanessa Bradford went 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs (none earned) in the win.
Paige Garcia, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Taylor Hughes, Alcorn State
Ashley Higgins, Prairie View
Caitlyn Hayden, Alabama A&M
Justine Jean, Alabama State
Jasmine Fulmore, Texas Southern
Valerie Centeno, Alabama State
Perry Hindi, Alabama State
Amira James, Alabama State
Lauren Rodriguez, Texas Southern
Jocilynn Ellis, Texas Southern
Sierra Valdez, Texas Southern
Tournament Most Valuable Player: Lauren Rodriguez, Texas Southern