HUNTSVILLE — The Stephen F. Austin softball team came to Huntsville with a clear vision in mind for its series against Sam Houston State; secure at least two wins and with it, the Southland Conference regular season title. SFA accomplished both in one fell swoop on Friday, winning the opener by a 3-0 score and claiming the nightcap in extras, 1-0.
SFA moves to 31-9 overall and 22-1 in league play with the victories, while securing its second regular season title.
GAME 1: SFA 3, Sam 0 — A leadoff double by Gaby Garcia in the second inning of the opener set up SFA for the first run of the contest, as Garcia advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and came home to score on a wild pitch.
With a 1-0 lead in her pocket, Ladyjack ace Kassidy Wilbur went to work in the circle, holding the ‘Kats off the scoreboard throughout. Her seven-inning, 98-pitch outing saw her scatter five hits and two walks across the duration of the game while striking out three batters.
Lexi Benson gave Wilbur and the ‘Jacks some insurance in the top of the seventh frame, as she hit a two-run home run over the wall in left center to plate herself and pinch runner Kayla Wallace. Benson was joined by Bryana Novegil and Mackenzie Bennett to lead SFA with a pair of hits in the contest.
Game 2: SFA 1, Sam 0 (8 inn.) — Game two of the doubleheader featured a pitcher’s duel between Wilbur (27-3) and SHSU starter Regan Dunn. Seven frames were not even to settle the contest, sending the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the ‘Jacks got singles from Amanda Carden and Bryana Novegil to set the scene for Shaylon Govan. Her RBI-single to right field plated pinch runner Madison Nguyen for the game’s first and only run, as Wilbur shut the door in the bottom of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts to cap off another complete game shutout effort.
Wilbur threw 160 pitches in the eight-inning affair, scattering five hits and five walks while striking out three batters. She improved to 27-3 on the season and is just one win away from tying the SFA single-season record for wins in a season, with 28.
Game 3: SFA 11, Sam 8— The SFA softball team scored eight runs over the final three innings of play to storm past rival Sam Houston on Saturday, 11-8. The collapse by the Bearkats allowed SFA to complete the series sweep over the hosts and improve to 32-9 overall and 23-1 in SLC play.
The Ladyjacks retook the momentum for good in the top of the seventh inning, as RBI doubles from Marisa Arriaga, Amanda Carden and Middlebrook evened the game at 8-8. After the game went to extra innings, SFA came to bat in the top of the eighth looking to finish the comeback. Gaby Garcia led off the frame with a single, followed by base knocks from Arriaga and Mackenze Bennett to load the bases. Lexi Benson then doubled to center field to score all three Ladyjacks for an 11-8 lead. Kassidy Wilbur (28-3) earned the win in relief.
by pitching the final two innings.
With the win, SFA officially clinched the Southland Conference regular season title outright, its first since the 2010 season.