May 16, 2014 11:10 PM by LSU Eunice Sports Information
The LSU Eunice softball team fell to regional rival Jones County Junior College 9-7 in the semifinals of the NJCAA National Championship Tournament Friday night, pushing the Lady Bengals into the loser's bracket where they will need three straight wins Saturday to defend their title.
LSU Eunice will now meet the winner of the Friday night elimination game between Des Moines Area Community College and Illinois Central College on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m., with the winner in that contest advancing to take on Jones County in the Championship game.
"(Jones County) was a lot better tonight. They got the bigger hits at the right time. We just couldn't get the bigger hit or make the big play at the right time," head coach Andy Lee said.
Recent National Championship Tournaments have seen champions emerge from the loser's bracket on the tournament's final day, with Wallace State Hanceville taking three wins on the final day to win the NJCAA Division I National Championship last spring, and Pheonix College grabbing three wins, including two straight against LSU Eunice, to win it all back in 2012.
"It happened last year at the Division I National Tournament when Wallace State won three on the final day. Phoenix College did it to us a couple years ago. These girls have played three games a lot of times in a day. We just have to go out there and play hard, execute, focus and it is something that we can do."
On Friday night, the Lady Bengals (61-3) finished with nine hits, but saw five come from two players, as Jones County finished with 10 hits in the game.
After Jones County took the lead in the top of the first inning, LSU Eunice tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the second frame, but would see Jones County plate three runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead for good.
Down four runs heading to the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Bengals cut the deficit in half on Emily Nolan's two-run homer with no one out, but proceeded to lineout, pop up and ground out to end the game.
Brooklynn Clark finished with three hits and an RBI on her double in the fourth, while Carey Alexis tallied two hits and three RBIs, all coming on her homer in the bottom of the second inning.
Codi Covington also finished with two hits, while Taylor Boulet (RBI double) and Nolan (2 RBI, homer) each added a hit.
Destin Vicknair (28-2) was saddled with the loss, allowing four runs (one earned run) on seven hits in her 4 2/3 innings of relief. Starter Raven Cole gave up three runs (two earned runs) in her 1/3 of an inning, while Kayla Davidson tossed the final two innings, allowing two runs of her own.
Jones County used a RBI single followed up moments later by a two-run single to take a three-run lead in the opening frame before the Lady Bengals tied things up in the bottom of the second when Alexis sent her three-run homer over the wall in left field.
Again Jones County responded, plating three more runs in the fourth in the same fashion as their opening inning, first tallying a two-run single before an RBI double pushed the lead to 6-3.
LSU Eunice answered back in the bottom of the fourth, using back-to-back RBI doubles down the left field line from Boulet and Clark to slash the lead to one run again before seeing Jones County add a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning and two more runs on a homer in the top of the seventh.
The Lady Bengals' last push in the bottom of the seventh came on Nolan's two-run homer to left-center field before the next three batters were retired to end the game.
LSU Eunice will play at 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning against the winner of the Des Moines/Illinois Central Friday night game, which can be seen on NJCAA TV.
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