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Bats Hot on Opening Day of Leadoff Classic

2006 NFCA Leadoff Classic Information 

Offense dominated as nine teams, including four of five SEC teams, posted undefeated marks during the opening day of the 11th Annual NFCA Leadoff Classic. 

The 24 teams hit 39 home runs and drove in 173 runs as 200 runs were put on the scoreboards in front of 2,356 fans at South Commons Stadium and Complex in Columbus, Ga. 

One of those undefeated teams, 18th-ranked Nebraska, scored 26 runs in its two games, including a tournament record 21 in a 21-1 victory over Illinois. The Huskers tied the Leadoff Classic record for home runs in a game with four in the victory, and Jamie Waldecker set the tournament record with six RBIs during a 2-for-5 outing. Lizzy Aumua also earned a spot in the tournament record book, notching five hits in a perfect hitting performance that included two runs scored and two RBIs. 

Nebraska responded in its second game with a 5-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. Waldecker and Carwhile homered again, with Waldecker adding to her RBI totals with another pair of runs driven in. Molly Hill got all the runs she would need in the bottom of the first as she allowed just three hits in the complete-game shutout. 

Louisiana-Lafayette, ranked No. 14 in the nation, also did its share of scoring in 14-0 and 6-0 wins over Florida State and Iowa, respectively. The Ragin’ Cajuns also tied the tournament record for single-game home runs, with Deserea Griffin, Lacey Bertucci, Holly Tankersley and Ashley Evans each going deep. 

Griffin ignited a 10-run fifth inning against the Seminoles with a grand slam. The next three batters all reached to load the bases again, and Evans knocked the second grand slam of the inning. 

Louisiana-Lafayette also used the long ball in the victory over Iowa as Evans homered again while this time being joined by Danyele Gomez and Codi Runyan. 

The offensive explosion was plenty for ULL hurlers Krystal Lewallen and Ashley Kirchberg, as the duo combined to allow just two hits with eight strikeouts over 12 innings. 

With the bats exploding around South Commons, Alabama won a pair of games in thrilling fashion in the stadium. 

Alabama opened action with an exciting 3-2 win over Georgia Tech. Tied 2-2 heading into the seventh, Stephanie VanBrakle helped earn her first save on the season by launching the game-deciding home run, a solo shot. 

The seventh-ranked Tide then squeaked out another 3-2 decision, this time over fifth-ranked Michigan. Both teams went through the opening seven frames tied at one. Michigan regained the lead in the top of the ninth as Rebekah Milian slid around the tag of Bama’s Ashley Holcombe on a ground ball from Samantha Findlay. 

UA answered in the bottom half of the ninth, however, to take the win. Brittany Rogers doubled to left to score Katie Johnson with the tying run. After Rodgers advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out, she scored the winning run as she sneaked in under the tag following Staci Ramsey’s ground ball. 

Georgia also went into extra innings, taking down Michigan State 5-4 in eight innings in the tournament opener for both teams. The Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead in the second, but MSU answered back in the third to tie the game and took the lead with a run in the fifth. UGA’s winning run came with Chelsea Cantillo on second as she scored on a Megan McAllister ground ball that was misplayed by Spartan first baseman Dayna Feenstra. 

The Bulldogs’ second game wasn’t as close as UGA exploded for nine runs in the top of the sixth en route to a 17-5 win over Seton Hall. Columbus native Ashley Godfrey enjoyed the homecoming, sparking the Georgia bats with a grand slam to center. Kasi Carroll earned the win in relief while also driving in three runs in the designated hitter spot. 

Second-ranked Tennessee exploded on offense in an 11-2 win over Iowa, and used the dominant pitching in a 1-0 victory over Florida State to go into the weekend undefeated. Tonya Callahan went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a home run, and Jennifer Griffin contributed another round-tripper in the opening-game victory over 25th-ranked Iowa. 

India Chiles doubled in Katherine Card in the bottom of the third for Tennessee’s only run in the victory over FSU. That was all the Lady Vols pitching staff would need as Meghan Rhodes and Monica Abbott combined to allow two hits and strike out 13. Abbott earned the win to move to 7-0 on the season. 

Southern Illinois scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth on Katie Louis’ grand slam and Cassidy Scoggins closed the door as the Salukis rallied to knock off Seton Hall 6-4. SIU scored five runs in the sixth as they went 2-0 on the day in a 6-3 win over Michigan State. 

Fellow Illinois mates Illinois State also put up a 2-0 mark during opening day action. The Redbirds got a pair of hits and three RBIs from Amber Smith as ISU opened with a 5-2 victory over Massachusetts. Illinois State got all three of its runs in the first three innings and then held off a furious rally in the seventh for a 3-2 win over Louisville. Stacy Birk entered the game and struck out Courtney Moore with the tying run on second to earn the save. 

Florida endured a slug-fest in its opening win over Illinois. Down a run in the ninth, the Gators scored a pair of runs on a Kristen Butler sacrifice fly and a Lauren Roussell single to right center to complete the rally in an 11-10 victory. 

UF didn’t have to outscore its opponent in the final game of the evening as Brooke Johnson’s continued the trend of grand slams with a four-run shot that capped a seven-run opening inning en route to a 9-1 win over Florida Atlantic. 

No. 16 Arizona State ran its record to 15-0 with a pair of victories on the opening day of pool play action. The Sun Devils got a complete-game, 13-strikeout outing from Desiree Serrano and Mindy Cowles scored the deciding run on a passed ball in the ninth as the Sun Devils held off 23rd-ranked North Carolina 4-3. 

ASU also had to earn the win in its second game in extra frames. Katie Burkhart had a tournament-record 18 strikeouts and held Auburn to just one hit as the Sun Devils squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Auburn. It was Kaitlin Cochran’s turn to plate the winning run as she drove in Michelle Smith with a single in the bottom of the eighth. 

Tournament action is scheduled to resume Saturday with the conclusion of pool play at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. EST. The bracket play portion of the tournament is slated to kick off at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday.