MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama State claimed the 2019 Southwestern Athletic Conference Softball Tournament Championship with an 8-4 victory over Texas Southern, rebounding from a 6-2 loss to the Lady Tigers in the first game of the day.
This marks the second title in four years for coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson and the Lady Hornets.
A big second inning was the difference for Texas Southern in the first championship game of the day.
After a scoreless first, Alabama State had a prime scoring chance in the top of the second, loading the bases with no outs. However, TSU pitcher Naomi Reyes and the Lady Tigers got out of the jam unscathed and immediately took control as Madi Marek led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run to left.
With Alabama State starter Vanessa Bradford struggling with her command, Texas Southern loaded the bases and scrapped together two more runs. Julia Bilbao scored Tevanae Tate with a single to right, and Bradford walked in another run. Charlene Castro came on to relieve Bradford, but Lauryn Banks drew a bases-loaded free pass to make it 4-0 TSU. The inning ended when Marek hit into a force out at third.
Texas Southern continued to build its advantage, as Terren Vinson singled to right to score Marissa Padron. Ebony Wiltz then scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-0.
Alabama State showed some life in the sixth inning, as Castro doubled, and Amira James singled and advanced to second on a throw to the infield. Hailey Walker cashed in on a Reyes offering with a single to right, during which Castro and James scored. The Hornets weren’t able to push any more across, as Reyes quieted the Alabama State lineup from there.
After Bilbao and Kelsey Riley drew walks off of Alabama State’s Justine Jean, Texas Southern’s Banks put the Lady Tigers on the board with a single to left, scoring Riley. The Lady Tigers managed to load the bases with two out, but Marissa Padron lined out to Jean to end the inning.
Castro led off with a double for Alabama State in the top of the second, sparking a chance. After Alabama State loaded the bases, a mishandled grounder allowed Castro to score and tie the game. James scored on a sac fly by Casey Durham to put Alabama State ahead.
Texas Southern tied the game with an RBI single from Tate but Alabama State was gifted three runs during the top of the fourth thanks to a trio of errors.
In the bottom of the fifth, Texas Southern loaded the bases with no outs with a pair of walks sandwiching a Marek single. Texas Southern pushed one across, but the Lady Hornets escaped further damage. The Lady Tigers continued to fight back but stranded two in the sixth. From there, the Lady Hornets added three insurance runs for Jean, who closed it out in the final frame on her way to the 2019 SWAC Softball Tournament Most Valuable Player award.
– Of the eight runs scored by Alabama State, seven were unearned as Texas Southern committed six errors in the game.
– Alabama State’s Castro was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
– Banks went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks for Texas Southern.
– Destiny Ricks was charged with the championship game loss, allowing five runs – none earned – in 5.1 innings of work.
– Texas Southern left 12 runners on base.
#SWACSB19 All-Tournament Team:
– Kayla Owens, Jackson State
– Danielle Hansell, Alabama A&M
– Laurisa Hernandez, Prairie View A&M
– Crystal Castillo, Prairie View A&M
– Tevanae Tate, Texas Southern
– Naomi Reyes, Texas Southern
– Madi Marek, Texas Southern
– Julia Bilbao, Texas Southern
– Amira James, Alabama State
– Justine Jean, Alabama State (#SWACSB19 Tournament MVP)
– Alexis Sydnor, Alabama State
– Kristin Gunter, Alabama State