BENTONVILLE, ARK. - The East Central University softball team split its first two games of the 2016 Great American Conference Championship Tournament, with a loss against No. 18 Southern Arkansas (2-3) in 12 innings and a 9-4 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State.
The Tigers (25-30) were led by senior Autumn Suydam, who tallied a .750 average, six hits, one run and four RBIs, including a grand slam in game two. Senior Taylor Davis added a .444 average, with four hits, two runs and two RBIs.
Senior Marissa Shaffer earned the win in the circle for ECU, with a complete game against the Savage Storm. She allowed eight hits and four runs (two earned). Junior Sydney Dow threw the first 9.1 innings of game one, with six strikeouts.
The Tigers are scheduled to play at 1 p.m., Friday, April 29 at Tiger Athletic Complex against the loser of the Arkansas Tech Harding game. There is weather expected to move through the Bentonville area on Friday, which may adjust the schedule. Stay tuned to www.ecutigers.com and the @ECUTigers Twitter account for the latest updates.
Southern Arkansas 3, East Central 2
The teams held each other scoreless in the first inning, but the Muleriders (42-8) were able to get to runs across the board in the bottom of the second to take a 0-2 lead.
The Tigers were held scoreless until the sixth inning when they fought back to tie the game at two. Freshman Caitlin Paolini started the inning with a double to right center and was sent home with a double from Taylor Davis.
Suydam kept the inning going with a single to short and the runners were sent to second and third on a sacrifice bunt from senior Jordynn VanPelt. Senior Lacey Paulk earned the second RBI with a single up the middle.
The teams them both stepped up the defense and forced the game into extra innings, marking the seventh time the Tigers have played an extra inning game this season and just the third for SAU.
The game became the longest game for both schools for the year and the longest game in GAC Tournament history before SAU earned the win in the bottom of the 12th inning.
East Central 9, Southeastern 4
The Savage Storm (29-23) opened the scoring in the second game of the day, sending two runs across the plate in the second inning for the 0-2 advantage.
While the Tigers were held scoreless until the fourth inning, when they did get the bats going they tallied nine runs to take a 9-2 lead. Senior Lauren Reeves started the inning with a single and was followed by junior Sydney Dow with a single to left.
After the first out, freshman Ellanee Allison added a single up the middle for the first run. Sophomore Bre'Anna Davis and Taylor Davis added singles for a run and to load the bases. That allowed Suydam to get a grand slam to center field.
VanPelt kept the inning alive with a double and Paulk singled to put runners on second and third, which allowed Reeves to earn an RBI with a groundout to second. The final two runs were scored on a home run to center field from Dow.
The Savage Storm were able to add two runs to their score in the top of the seventh, but it was not enough for the win and ECU advanced in the tournament with a 9-4 victory.