Radford, Va. (www.BigSouthSports.com) -
No. 5 Gardner-Webb took an early 3-0 lead on a home run by senior catcher McKenzie Morenus
and did not look back, as the Runnin' Bulldogs held on to defeat the No. 3 seeded Charleston Southern Buccaneers in game 12 of the 2012 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting and Brookwood Farms Barbeque Saturday afternoon at Radford Softball Field in Radford, Va.
With the win, GWU improves to 28-27 overall, while Charleston Southern falls to 32-25 on the season.
Charleston Southern threatened in the bottom of the first, as lead-off hitter Megan Lombard singled to short to start the inning and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. However, GWU starter Jessica Childers pitched out of the jam by getting a strikeout and back-to-back ground outs to third-baseman Jordyn Arrowood to end the inning.
In the top of the second, Gardner-Webb put a runner in scoring position, as Second-Team All-Conference
selection Amanda Gomes lined a two-out double to center for her first hit of the tournament. However, CSU starter Linzy Rother got the next GWU batter to strikeout looking to end the top of the inning.
The Runnin' Bulldogs put the first runs on the scoreboard in the top of the third, as redshirt-junior Melinda Dulkowski and sophomore Samantha Meenaghan posted back-to-back singles. With one out, Morenus hit a deep fly ball to left which sailed over the fence for a three-run home run putting the visitors on top 3-0. The long ball was Morenus' third of the tournament and eighth of the season.
Charleston Southern used got one run back in the bottom of half of the third, as Kristin Kelleher hit a deep sacrifice fly to left field to plate Courtney Konyk from third to cut the Gardner-Webb lead to two at 3-1 after three complete innings of play.
After both teams went down in order 1-2-3 in the fourth and GWU once more in the fifth, the Buccaneers' Konyk hit a two-out triple over the right fielder's head in the bottom half of the inning. However, GWU's Boomhower would leave her stranded at third, as the redshirt-senior would strikeout the next CSU batter to end the fifth.
The Bucs' Rother, who had set down eight straight GWU batters including the first out in the top of the sixth, gave up a double off the center field fence to Morenus. Two batters later redshirt-sophomore Morgan Baker singled to left field to drive in pinch runner Jane Savage from second to push the Runnin' Bulldogs lead to three at 4-1.
Again Charleston Southern refused to quit, but rather pushed a run of their own across in the bottom of the sixth. After Kelleher and Jessica Brock led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Stephanie Sbardella hit a one-out single up the middle to plate Kelleher and cut the Gardner-Webb lead back to two at 4-2.
GWU added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, as Meenaghan had an RBI double to left center and Arrowood followed up with an RBI single up the middle all with two outs.
Boomhower got the Bucs to go down in order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, as Gardner-Webb held on for the 6-2 win over Charleston Southern.
Gardner-Webb's Boomhower (13-6) picked up the win in a relief effort, as the righty gave up one run on four hits, while striking out three over the final 4.1 innings of play.
The loss went to Charleston Southern's Rother (3-3), as the junior allowed six runs on nine hits and one walk, yet struck out a season-high seven strikeouts over the seven inning contest.
Offensively for GWU, Morenus was 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, a walk, three RBI and a run scored, while Meenaghan was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Both Arrowood (1-for-4) and Baker (1-for-3) had an RBI single in the contest.
At the plate for the Bucs, Sbardella was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Lombard was 2-for-4 with a double.
The two teams will square off at 7:30pm tonight with the winner advancing to tomorrow afternoon's 2012 Big South Conference Championship game.
GWU Head Coach Tom Cole
"It was another good game. We got a big three-run shot by McKenzie (Morenus) to put us up 3-0. Charleston Southern kept fighting back and battling, cutting the lead to 3-1 and 4-2, to make it a game. Cindy (Boomhower) and Jess (Childers) pitched well and did what we needed them to do. We played with a lot of heart and intensity, and with a lot of desire."
CSU Head Coach Shane Winkler
"Hats off to Gardner-Webb. They came out and swung the bats well and did what they had to. Now we are in the same exact position and have to respond."