NCAA Division II Championship CoverageNCAA Division II Championship Coverage 

Emporia State used a five-run fifth inning to rally from an early deficit and claim a 9-1 win over Georgia College & State Thursday afternoon at the NCAA Division II Softball Championship. 

The five-run burst for the second-ranked Lady Hornets (59-5) included three home runs in the frame. Chelsea McClernon kicked off the inning with a solo home run that expanded the lead to 3-1. Two batters later, second team all-American Bree Beattie blasted a shot out left field to increase the lead to 4-1. Mandi Chester issued a walk to another all-American, Megan Davison, and Morgan Viola advanced her with a single up the middle. With two away, Channon Nitz capped her 2-for-3, five RBI day with a home run that just cleared the fence in left center. 

“Sometimes it takes time to get going,” Nitz said. “We saw her one time through and started sitting back a little bit better.” 

“We started off kind of slow, but got the bats got going and Melissa did a great job of keeping them in check for the first couple of innings,” ESU head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “They slid one across the plate early, but we did a nice job of adjusting and getting the bats going and taking advantage of some mistakes their pitcher made.” 

That would be all the run support Melissa Stevens would need as she held the Bobcats to a run on three hits with nine strikeouts in five innings. 

The first three innings were a pitcher’s dual until GCSU (44-12) jumped on top with a run in the fourth. An error by Battie allowed Lindsey Swanson to reach. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, she scored on a wild throw to first from McClernon. 

The lead only lasted the half inning as ESU scored twice in the home half of the fourth. Davison reached on an error, and with one out, Jennifer Dace singled. Nitz followed with a single that scored Dace and pinch-runner Katie Ellis. 

Mandi Chester suffered the loss as she allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in four and a third innings. 

Emporia State advances to face Florida Southern Friday at 5 p.m., while GCSU will face Le Moyne in an elimination game Friday at Noon.

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