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Tatlock Single Gives Florida Southern 11-Inning Win Over Emporia State

Michelle Tatlock’s RBI single in the top of the 11th inning scored Jackie Leppla with the winning run as Florida Southern advanced in winner’s bracket action with a 1-0 win over Emporia State Friday afternoon at the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in Salem, Va. 

Megan Brown was phenomenal in the circle, tossing a complete-game, four-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts to move her record to 30-3 on the season. 

“It was a great game. We’re emotionally drained right now,” FSU head coach Chris Bellotto said. “We feel very fortunate to come out with a win. Emporia State is a good team with great players and great coaching. These kids played hard and with all of their heart. 

“I’m proud of Megan. You can’t ask for a pitcher to do any more than she did,” Bellotto continued. “Every inning when we didn’t score I asked her to find some way to keep them off the board. She did a fantastic job. She’s been consistent ever since she’s been here.” 

Melissa Stevens was just as solid despite taking the loss to fall to 27-3 on the year. In relief, Stevens hurled seven and two-thirds innings and allowed an unearned run on three hits with 12 K’s. 

The deciding run came with two outs in the 11th inning. Jackie Leppla reached as Megan Davison’s throw from third sailed high, allowing her to take second. Natalie Lang followed with a walk, and Tatlock capped a 2-for-5 day with her single up the middle that scored Leppla just ahead of the throw. 

“It was nerve-wracking coming up with two outs and two runners in scoring position,” Tatlock said. “Jackie and Natalie had done a great job getting on base. I knew I had to put something in play and I knew I could get it done. I knew with the count she was going to pitch something close to me and I got it done.” 

The Mocs, who moved to 55-6 with the win, had an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth as Lang and Tatlock reached on a single and double, respectively. Stevens replaced ESU starter Courtney Reed and retired Angela Williams and Leah English to end the threat. 

The Lady Hornets didn’t have a runner reach second base until the 10th when Bree Beattie singled and moved over to third. Brown worked out of the jam as Jennifer Dace grounded out to short. They also put the tying run at second in the 11th after a single and walk, but pinch-hitter Sarah Luschen grounded out to Brown to end the game. 

“Emporia State is such a great club. They are one of the top teams in the country and a great hitting club,” Brown said. “I tried to make good pitches. I got tired after pitching for three hours. The other team was tired and I knew my teammates were tired. They didn’t have any control over what I throw.” 

The Lady Mocs receive a bye until noon Sunday, when they will face the winner of Friday’s nightcap between Lock Haven and Cal State Bakersfield for the right to play for the national title. Emporia State dropped to 59-6 on the year and will face Central Oklahoma Saturday at noon in an elimination contest.