Lady Rams offensive display not enough to prevent season-ending loss

Lady Rams offensive display not enough to prevent season-ending loss
May 07
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee Katrina Bartlett- hits a grand slam home run during the CIAA Softball Tournament.)

The CIAA Softball Tournament turned into a marathon of sorts for Winston-Salem State. After suffering a second-round loss to Chowan in the double-elimination event, the Lady Rams faced the challenging task of having to win three games on the same day in order to advance to the tournament championship final.

Winston-Salem State (23-22) came close to pulling it off in consolation bracket games played last Saturday in Raleigh. The Lady Rams won their first two games and needed one more victory to advance to the title round.

In spite of putting on one of its best offensive displays of the year, Winston-Salem State lost 12-9 to Chowan, the tournament’s No. 1 seed. The season-ending setback erased all the Lady Rams hopes of repeating as tournament champions. WSSU went down swinging with a couple of grand-slam home runs. On the downside, a couple of costly errors (four for the game) didn’t help the cause.

“We had a long day, but coming in, we knew it would be and we were prepared for that,” said Coach LaTaya Hilliard-Gray of WSSU. “There were some very good moments for us. But at the end of the day, it all came down to us not being able to make the plays we needed to make at crucial times.”

The Lady Rams opened the game against Chowan with a quick barrage. Monet Daly scored from third when pitcher Kayla Robins walked Kat Zimmer with the bases loaded. Katrina Bartlett stepped up and blasted a home run to drive in four runs to give WSSU a 5-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for Chowan to answer. With one out and two runners on base, Courtney Diamond hit a run-scoring single. The Hawks added another run with the bases loaded when Chandler Bridges scored from third after Brook Bowen was hit by a pitch. Chowan forged ahead to take a 7-5 lead on Danielle Baccus’ grand slam.

Down 8-5 entering the top half of the fourth inning, the Lady Rams loaded the bases with singles by Mercedes Hargett and Anna Marino sandwiched in between Bartlett reaching base on a fielder’s choice. WSSU regained the lead at 9-8 when Jada Johnson cleared the bases with a home run shot over the right field fence.

Chowan tied the game 9-9 in the bottom of the fourth, when Diamond delivered an RBI-single to score Bridges. After that, the Lady Rams became their own nemesis.  Errors in the fourth and fifth innings led to three unearned runs for the Hawks, which proved to be the final margin of defeat for WSSU.

In five tournament games, the Lady Rams had a team batting average of .313, averaged 8.6 runs per game and had 31 RBIs. Individually, Hargett and Kiah Ruffin were named to the CIAA All-Tournament team.

Hargett, a sophomore pitcher/utility player, showcased her ability to hit for average (.375) and for power (three home runs and six RBIs). Ruffin, a senior outfielder who transferred from UNC Greensboro two years ago, hit .313 for the tournament.

“Although the outcome wasn’t what was hoped for, I saw a lot of positives,” said Gray. “It was a weekend of growth for us. With only three seniors and no juniors on this team, we had a very young group. They’ve gotten better at trusting in the process and learning how to play for each other and not as individuals trying to do everything on their own.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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