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Home Runs, Stevens Pitching Gem Lead ESU to 4-1 Win Over Bakersfield

Home runs by Channon Nitz and Megan Davison proved to be enough offense for Melissa Stevens as Emporia State eliminated Cal State Bakersfield 4-1 Saturday evening at the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in Salem, Va. 

Bakersfield (52-11) jumped on top in the first behind an RBI double from Renee Rubio that scored Allison Amezcua. The Lady Hornets (61-6) struck back in the fourth, taking the lead as Davison blasted a two-run home run out right center that also scored Shelbe Hughes, who walked to leadoff the frame. 

“This was the team we had all year, ESU head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “Everyone played well. Melissa pitched well, we hit well and played solid defense.” 

“I had struggled at the plate all week,” Davison said. “I had one strike on me, and I had been ahead of her all day. She tried to throw the change-up, and I sat on it pretty well.” 

After allowing the game’s opening run in the first, Stevens settled in and retired 20 of the last 22 hitters she faced. Stevens allowed a run on three hits with three strikeouts in the complete-game effort that ran her record to 29-3 on the year. 

“I found my rhythm. They had seen me play and came out aggressive, so I looked at them and adjusted my game plan to keep them more off-balance,” Stevens said. “My velocity was a little down, but I had good spots after the first inning.” 

Nitz extended the lead as she led off the fifth with a solo home run to left, her second home run in as many games and third of the tournament. 

“I’m feeling comfortable at the plate,” Nitz said. “I’m progressing at the right time, and pitchers are giving me good pitches I can hit.” 

Melissa Wooldridge suffered the loss to fall to 17-4. She gave up all four runs on five hits with six strikeouts over six and two-thirds innings. Christie Hill picked up the final out. 

ESU advances to Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. game against the loser of Sunday’s winner’s bracket match-up between Florida Southern and Lock Haven. The winner of that game will advance to Monday’s championship game.