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Emporia State Forces “If Game,” Defeats St. Edward’s at NCAA Division II Championship

 HOUSTON – Emporia State took a first-inning lead and never relinquished it, defeating St. Edward’s by a 3-1 score at Memorial Park on Friday afternoon. 

With the win, Emporia State (47-16) forces an “if necessary” rematch with St. Edward’s (53-16) which will take place on Saturday morning at 10 am. The winner of that game will advance to the 3:30 pm CDT Championship Game against either Lock Haven or Humboldt State. 

The Hornets opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Jessie Wiard led off with a single and went to second base on a fielders choice by Angela Mahan. A sacrifice bunt by Jennifer Dace advanced the pair into scoring position, putting Miranda Campbell in position for the RBI groundout to give Emporia State a 1-0 lead. 

A pair of runs were added in the top of the fourth inning as Dace led off the inning with a single before being replaced by pinch runner Nicole Bergley. Bergley moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Campbell before being wild pitched to third base. Another RBI groundout, this time by April Huddleston, made the score 2-0 as Bergley scored. 

A walk to Shelbe Hughes extended the inning, and Hughes went to third on a single down the right field line by designated player Abby Smith. An Aubree Brattin single plated Hughes to account for the Hornets third run of the game. 

St. Edward’s answered in the bottom of the sixth inning when leadoff hitter Lexi Stephens started the inning with a single. After a pop-out for the first out of the inning, Stephens went to second on a groundout by Lisa Paul and scored on a Kristen Lozano double to make the score 3-1. The Hilltoppers were unable to push an additional run across the plate, falling by a score of 3-1. 

Samantha Sheeley earned the victory for the Hornets, improving to 31-7 on the season. She struck out nine and did not issue a walk in the contest. St. Edward’s staring pitcher Robin Becker took the loss and falls to 28-8 on the season. She pitched three and two-thirds innings in the game before being relieved by Diana Cezeaux who struck out two and allowed just one hit in three and a third scoreless innings.