CORSICANA, Texas – The Blinn Buccaneers are one win away from their fifth consecutive trip to the NJCAA National Championships after defeating San Jacinto and Northeast Texas on the third day of the Region XIV Softball Tournament.
Blinn defeated San Jacinto 5-3, then beat Northeast Texas 12-0 in five innings to advance to the tournament semifinals. Blinn will face Paris at 10 a.m. Sunday and can advance to the tournament finals – and an automatic berth to nationals – with a win. Trinity Valley remains undefeated in the tournament and would meet the Blinn-Paris winner in the finals at 12:30 p.m.
The Buccaneers are looking to earn their fifth consecutive NJCAA National Championships berth after winning the Region XIV title each of the last four years. Blinn has advanced to nationals in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, placing fifth at last year's national tournament.
The Buccaneers got past San Jacinto thanks to a three-run seventh inning. San Jacinto led 3-0 after four innings and Blinn was in danger of being no-hit until the fifth, when the Buccaneers rallied for a pair of runs. Christa Hartnett hit an RBI single and the Bucs scored another run on an error to cut the Coyotes’ lead to 3-2.
In the seventh, Tiffani McKnight and Kristina Davila each hit RBI singles, and Sydney Wellmann drew a bases-loaded walk.
Shannon O’Connor (19-10) retired the side in order in the seventh to preserve the win. The freshman scattered seven hits and three walks, striking out two.
O’Connor was even better against Northeast Texas, spinning a two-hitter while striking out seven.
The Buccaneers broke the game open in the second inning as McKnight hit a three-run homer, Davila drove in two runs with a double and Peyton Webb smacked a two-run single.
Davila drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to make it 8-0, and in the fourth Shelbe Sterling added a home run and McKnight hit a two-run single. In the fifth, the Bucs scored two runs off a mishandled ball hit off the bat of Mackinsey Yoes.
Sterling finished the day 2-for-3 with a homer while McKnight was 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk.
The Buccaneers are now 34-19 on the season.