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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Softball

Cougars rally with back-to-back walk-offs


The Cougars rallied for two walk-off wins against the East Carolina Pirates in an afternoon doubleheader on Friday.

Knowing every win counts when it comes to seeding in the conference tournament, the Cougars rallied behind both strong bats and great pitching to take the first two games of the three-game series 8-7 and 2-1 to improve to 19-18 on the year and 4-0 in AAC play.

“We know that it’s important to take all these games in conference, and we want to win the conference so we’re just taking it game by game,” senior shortstop Selena Hernandez said.

Senior right fielder Tiffani McKnight got the scoring started for the Cougars with a solo home run in the bottom of the second, but the Pirate quickly responded with two runs in the top of the third.

The Cougars answered with two runs in the third off junior catcher Courtney Klingler’s single and added three more in the fourth on three consecutive RBI hits by Hernandez, sophomore Shelby Miller and junior Julana Shrum for a 6-2 lead.

ECU was able to add two runs in the fifth and to pull ahead in the seventh as the first six batters reached safely building a 7-6 lead 3 outs away from victory.

The Cougars would not be defeated though as they loaded the bases with two outs for Hernandez who provided a 2-RBI single for the walk-off win.

“I’m just trying to stay relaxed and just help my team and do my job,” Hernandez said. “I’m just trying to help my team come out with the win.”

“If it’s ugly, if it’s pretty, whatever it takes to win, we’re going to do it.”

Game two of the afternoon started off slow, with both offenses only getting one hit each through the first three innings, but that was broken when ECU catcher Abby Wynne took Miller deep for a 1-0 lead in the fourth.

The lead wouldn’t last long, as Hernandez led off the bottom of the inning with a blast of her own, tying it up at 1-1.

“I’m working extra hard now that it’s my last year. I want to go out with a bang,” Hernandez said.

The pitchers continued to duel it out heading into the seventh, when Houston got the winning run to third but was unable to bring it home as the game headed into extra innings.

The Cougars were able to seal the deal this time after junior outfielder Katie St. Pierre hit a one-out double and was brought home when freshman outfielder Kaylin Crumpton hit a walk-off into center past an outstretched second baseman.

Miller (4-4) finished with a complete game 8.0 innings giving up one run on only three hits in a stellar performance.

The Cougars will look to Saturday for the annual Bark in the Park, with first pitch scheduled for noon.

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