OKLAHOMA CITY – Behind a three-run fifth and sophomore Ericka Bynum’s 3-for-3, two RBI performance, No. 24 Shorter defeated No. 7 St. Mary’s, 4-2 in game one of the 2015 NCAA Division II Championship, Thursday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth trailing 2-1, the Hawks (42-15) put three runs on the board and did not look back. Senior Maggie Meacham’s opposite field two-run double to the left centerfield gap put her team up for good, 3-2. Bynum (pictured) tacked on an insurance run, shooting a RBI single back up the middle.
That’s all freshman hurler Amanda Blanchard needed to earn the three-hit complete-game win. After surrendering a two-out home run and the lead in the top of the fourth, Blanchard buckled down and retired the final 10 batters of the game. She struck out five and walked a batter to improve to 19-4.
Joining Bynum in the multiple-hit category for the Hawks were freshman Niki Hall, a third-team NFCA All-American, and sophomore Cameron Carter with two hits apiece. Shorter was 12-for-24 at the plate with two extra base hits.
Bynum put Shorter on the board in the bottom of the first with a two-out RBI single to right, scoring junior Kendall Johnson. Johnson drew a two-out walk, stole second and moved to third on an error before Bynum came through with her first RBI of the day.
Senior and second-team NFCA All-American, Vianna Gutierrez Touchtone started in the circle for the Rattlers (48-11) and helped herself out in the top of the fourth, sending a two-out, two-run moonshot down the leftfield line for a 2-1 lead.
However, the Hawks started to find a groove in the fifth and forced a pitching change. It didn’t slow down Shorter, which registered five hits, four to the opposite field and one back up the middle, in the decisive three-run fifth.
Gutierrez Touchtone recorded two of the Rattlers’ three hits. Haley Rickter also singled for St Mary’s. Guitierrez Touchtone (28-6) suffered the defeat, allowing four runs, three earned, on nine hits. She struck out two and walked one.
Shorter returns to action tomorrow and will face the winner of game two between No. 6 North Georgia and No. 10 Indianapolis at 4:00 p.m. CT. St. Mary's moves to the elimination bracket and will face the loser of game two on Saturday at 12:00 p.m.
-- Photo courtesy of Richard T. Clifton.