The Arkansas-Monticello softball team captured its first conference tournament title in school history Saturday afternoon, defeating the Southeastern Oklahoma Savage Storm 9-3 in the Great American Tournament Final.
UAM (40-14) got on the board first with a single run in the top of the first. Beth Johnson got a double down the right field line, putting herself in scoring position for Taylor Russell’s single to right that put the Blossoms up 1-0.??
Southeastern (40-16) answered right back, however, getting two runs on a pair of hits in the bottom half of the inning. That put the Blossoms behind for the first, and only, time in all four games of the tournament.?
Two scoreless innings followed, as it seemed both pitchers had settled into grooves as the crowd in attendance at the Tiger Sports Complex settled in for a duel. Although, that all came to an end in the top of the fourth.??
Brittany Eitel got a one-out single up the middle to put a runner on for Jennifer Hickman. The senior from Bastrop drilled a stand-up triple to right center that brought Eitel in to tie the score at 2, still with only one out. Katie Bowman got a single to third on the next at-bat; then, advanced to second on a stolen base as the Storm tried to hold Hickman at third.?
?Summer Huddleston gave UAM the lead they would not relinquish with a single to right field that plated both Hickman and Bowman to give the Blossoms the 4-2 lead. Maggie Sands then added the fourth run of the inning with a single back up the middle that scored Huddleston.?
Two more runs in the fifth and the sixth salted the game away, as Jackson held the Storm scoreless after the two runs in the first. The senior from Hallsville, Texas went the full seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk. She struck out 10 in 32 batters faced.??
Kayla Jackson, the GAC Pitcher of the Year, was named the Tournament MVP for her efforts after pitching all four of the Blossoms’ games in the three-day event. Jennifer Hickman, Maggie Sands, Katie Bowman, and Summer Huddleston all joined Jackson on the All-Tournament team.?
?UAM, which also won the GAC regular season championship, will have to wait and see what happens as the Regional Committee will meet to determine the field for the South Central Regional Tournament, beginning next Friday, May 4th at a site still to be determined.??
The Division II regional field will be announced by the NCAA on Monday.