Trailing 4-0 to Fort Hays State and down to its final at-bat, the Abilene Christian softball team pulled off an improbable comeback, scoring seven runs, capped by Erin Gilliland’s walk-off three-run homerun in the seventh to close out the 7-4 win.
“That win was such a team effort,” Gilliland said. “It just shows our team’s determination and willingness to keep fighting. Our team has lots of heart.”
“That game was the high point so far for our team emotionally,” head coach Bobby Reeves said. “The strong point of our team is that the players just don’t give up. They compete until the end of the game an are the most determined group I’ve ever coached.”
The game-winning homerun marked Gilliland’s first of the year and extended the Wildcats’ winning streak to eight games.
“This is a fun time to be a part of this program,” Reeves said. “The girls are loving it and playing with a confidence that is uncoachable. They want to go out there and play all the time, even on their off days.”
The Tigers fell to 4-1, but pitcher Maddie Holub did all she could to help her team on offense and defense, striking out nine Wildcat batters, and hitting two runs.
Hitting third in the lineup, Holub smoked a Caitlyn Crain pitch over the fence in the first inning and added a two-run homerun in the third that stretched the Lions lead to 4-0.
“We were just struggling at the time,” Reeves said. “Our bats weren’t going and Holub was smoking anything we threw her way.”
Shelby Hall relieved Crain from the mound following Holub’s second homerun. Hall survived two scoreless innings despite giving up seven hits. The Lions left the bases loaded in the third and fourth.
In the fourth, right fielder Lyndi Smith got an outfield assist after gunning down Holub at home plate following a single, which kept the deficit at four.
“Lyndi’s throw was a huge point in the game for us,” Gilliland, who was on the receiving end of the throw, said. “It was right on line and a perfect throw. That throw was a game changer.”
Fort Hays had another scoring opportunity in the fifth with runners at second and third and no outs, already up 4-0, but Peyton Mosley came up big again on the mound, leaving them stranded with back-to-back strikeouts followed by an infield pop-up.
“Fort Hays is an aggressive swing team,” Reeves said. “They’ll swing at anything. We brought Peyton in there, and she has a stellar changeup that gave them fits and threw their timing off.”
This is Mosley’s second time over the weekend where she came into a big spot in the game and excelled. Against Midwestern State on Friday, she got the start and began the game by giving up two runs in the first inning. But, the sophomore settled down and only allowed two hits the rest of the game.
“Peyton is a competitor down to the core,” Reeves said. “She is a tremendous, strong-minded athlete. She’s very focused and always comes to play.”
Mosley came back in the sixth and retired the side in order, and did the same in the seventh.
The ACU offense was silent until the seventh, generating only two hits up to that point. But that changed in the seventh.
Courtney Flanary started the inning off with a walk, followed by an RBI triple by Madison Buckley. Keanna Winkfield then singled, and was drove home by a double by Sara Vaughn.
Kimberly Briggs closed the gap to one with an RBI groundout, and then Megan Brigance was awarded her third walk of the game. Smith then tied the game on a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning.
Sarah Martinez accounted for the second out on a groundout, which brought Gilliland to the plate, who was 0-2 so far.
Gilliland smoked the ball out of the park, sending the Wildcats to victory with a 7-4 win in walk-off fashion.
ACU returns to Friday in Denton for the 2012 Best Western Premier Spring Fling tournament at Texas Woman’s University, where the team will take on Central Missouri and UTPB Friday.
The Jennies (5-0) enter on a 5-game winning streak after a perfect weekend in Durant, Okla.
The team defeated No. 12 Arkansas-Monticello 1-0 and combined to win all five games by a score of 23-8. The 5-0 start marks the team’s best since 2006.
“Central Missouri is an incredible team and will be some of the stiffest competition we’ll face,” Reeves said. ” We need to come prepared for that one.”
In the nightcap, the Falcons bring in a (2-12) record and a 4-game losing streak. Courtney Cernoch and Anna Hollingsworth, who has a team0high .361 batting average, lead UTPB offensively.
Saturday, ACU will take on Texas A&M-International and St. Edwards. The Dustdevils (4-11) play Cameron and Midwestern Thursday before playing Pittsburgh State in the TWU tournament opener. On Feb. 17, TAMI snapped a 9-game losing streak with a 13-2 win over Missouri Southern. Emily Smith leads their offense with a .375 batting average.
St. Edwards enters with a (4-6) record and will play two games in the tournament before playing ACU. Miranda Yeager leads the offense with a .500 batting average and Sara DeBrow leads the team with a 2-1 record and 3.26 earned run average.
Pittsburgh State comes in with a 2-4 record. The Gorillas are led by Amanda DeCastro who leads the team with 2 homeruns and 6 RBI’s. Reliever Jessica Barnes has been lights out on the mound, with a 1.27 ERA in four appearances.