ST. GEORGE, UT -- The Blinn College softball team’s fourth consecutive trip to the national tournament came to a close today after a pair of losses in the second day of the tournament.
Blinn lost to Salt Lake (Utah) Community College 6-1, then was eliminated with a 7-1 loss to Wallace (Ala.) State. The Buccaneers, who qualified for nationals by winning the Region XIV Tournament, finished the season with a 51-10 record.
“Not many teams win 40 in a year, let alone 50, and another Blinn team reached the 50-win mark this year,” Blinn coach Rick Church said.
“When we started 3-3 in conference, everyone could have gotten down on themselves, but we battled back and won conference, swept through regionals and got out here and won our first two games.”
The Buccaneers defeated Gordon (Ga.) College 9-0, then defeating Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 5-2 on Thursday.
The Bucs looked to be off to a strong start against Salt Lake, as freshman outfielder Tiffani McKnight slugged a home run over the left-field fence to give Blinn a 1-0 lead in the second inning. But Salt Lake would bounce back, scoring six unanswered runs to take the victory.
Sophomore pitcher Kaci Federwisch, the Region XIV Player of the Year, allowed six runs – five earned – in 4 1/3 innings before freshman Shannon Sain came on to finish the game. Sain threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Blinn finished with four hits in the game, including two from freshman outfielder Leandra Maly.
Flint McCauley earned the win for Salt Lake, allowing just two hits through five innings. She struck out six. Meagan Neilson hit a two-run home run for the Lady Bruins.
Wallace State jumped on the Buccaneers early, scoring three runs in the first two innings.
Sophomore left fielder Ryann Jones hit a solo home run in the third inning, but that would prove all the offense the Bucs could muster against Wallace State’s Heather Parker. The Bucs finished with six hits, including two from Jones.
Jocelyn Tacquard took the loss for the Bucs, allowing six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Federwisch threw the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits.
Wallace State hit four home runs, including two by Megan Christenson.
This marked the Buccaneers’ sixth NJCAA National Championships appearance in 13 seasons under Church. The team has advanced to nationals in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
This year’s club graduates a sophomore class that includes Tacquard, Jones, Amy Acheson, Michelle Svehla, Shelby Harris, Federwisch and Brittney Krchnak.
“When they break that last team huddle and those tears start flowing, it hits them all at once and they know what it was all about,” Church said. “They know they’re leaving something behind with this program. It’s not just a stepping stone … it means a lot more to be a part of this program.”
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