Sunday, May 14, 2017

FAMU rallies back to win fourth straight MEAC softball championship

Florida A&M claimed its fourth consecutive MEAC Softball Championship after rallying back to defeat MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman in an emotional 4-2 decision on Sunday afternoon.

After failing to score in the first contest on Sunday, Bethune-Cookman's bats woke up as Kaitlin Alamprese hit a leadoff single in the second frame and moved over to scoring position after a sac bunt from Ieasha Waters. Kailey Richard drove in the game's first run with an RBI double followed by Brianna Sanders' single. Sanders stole second and created havoc for the FAMU defense as a throwing error allowed Richard to score from third and claim a 2-0 lead.

The FAMU dugout and crowd woke from its slumber in the third as Miesha McBride drew a leadoff walk and was pinch ran by Shakay Nixon. Nixon moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Whitney Farris' grounder. For the second straight game, freshman Jamesia Stoudemire came up huge with an RBI double to cut the deficit in half. Tashay Irvis answered with a single and with runners on the corner, a catcher's interference on Amber Fullwood's at-bat loaded the bases and upped the pressure immensely for both teams.

With the bases loaded, a bit of confusion with the ball-strike count ensued and FAMU took advantage by having all of its runners steal a base to tie the game at 2-all. Once the situation was rectified, FAMU's Toni Anderson was hit by a pitch to load the bases once again with Alexis Day breaking the tie on a RBI groundout. A throwing error by B-CU on the ensuing play allowed another FAMU run to score and up their lead to 4-2.

Having the lead and the momentum back, FAMU's Kenya Pereira overcame a walk in the fourth and pitched a 1-2-3 fifth to bring FAMU one step closer to the title. However, B-CU would not back down as Alamprese hit a one-out single in the sixth and moved into scoring position on pinch hitter Taylor Sherritt's single to right field. Richard loaded the bases with a hard-hit shot to right but B-CU could not convert the opportunity as Sanders popped up to the shortstop followed by Yvonne Siordia's inning-ending groundout.

B-CU managed an additional hit in the seventh with two outs but that would be the last offensive opportunity of the day as the game ended with a grounder to short.

FAMU becomes only the second team in MEAC history to win four consecutive championships as the last time it happened was during B-CU's string of five straight titles from 2000-2004. FAMU now has 13 MEAC Softball Championships to its ledger with all under Head Coach Veronica Wiggins.

Kenya Pereira was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the third time in her career as she struck out three. B-CU's Mariah Estrada fell to 7-7 on the season while Alamprese and Richard led all batters with two hits apiece. Pereira finished the tourney with 13 strikeouts and a .072 ERA in four games.

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