Dominating play, the East Central College Falcons made certain there would be no if-needed game in the NJCAA Division II District J Tournament Friday in Union.
The Falcons (28-30) secured the district title by sweeping Murray State College (14-29) of Tishomingo, Okla., in the second game of a doubleheader, 7-1.
The win eliminated Murray State and gave ECC a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament in Clinton, Miss., May 17-19.
After winning the first game, 5-4, the Falcons continued to take advantage of Murray State fielding mistakes through the second game. Murray State made four errors in the game and that led to East Central rallies. ECC made no errors in the game.
“Offense helps,” said sophomore second baseman Rhiannon Edler (Owensville). “We’ve been having great defensive games lately. It helps when you have offense to back it up and get the job done.”
Unlike the first game, Murray State couldn’t generate much offense against the pitching of sophomore Brooke Brenton (Lebanon). After picking up the win in the first game with two scoreless relief innings, Brenton went the distance in this contest. She allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out two Aggies.
“I think when they got down in the first game, they shut down a little bit,” Brenton said. “Once we came back on top, they were kind of down. We just kicked them while they were down. We almost got it done in five innings.”
In the second inning, the Falcons put two runs on the board in the top of the second and never trailed after that.
Freshman Chloe Galati (Borgia) singled to left to start the rally. She scored on a double by freshman Julie Scheer (New Haven) to bring home the first run. Scheer scored on a single by freshman Jessica Jones (Wright City) to make it 2-0.
In the third inning, sophomore Nicole Thompson (Winfield) reached base on a bunt. She went to second on a fielders’ choice by Galati and scored on a hit by freshman Keely Hill (Reeds Spring).
“You’ve got to do what you can to make it pay,” Thompson said.
Thompson slid home in a cloud of dirt after hustling around from second base, easily beating the throw.
“My heart and determination,” Thompson said about what helped her beat the throw.
The Falcons added three huge runs in the fourth inning, all on one swing of the bat by freshman Kris Stevens (Union).
Stevens homered to center to chase home Jones and Brenton. Jones had singled to left and Brenton bunted her way aboard. An error left runners on the corner for Stevens, who crushed the second pitch she faced from Hosanna McCoy over the center field fence.
“We felt like we were in control throughout this game but the back-breaker for Murray State was Kris’s three-run homer in the fourth,” said ECC Head Coach Brad Wallach.
The Falcons made it 7-0 in the top of the sixth. Brenton singled to left, took second on a wild pitch and was bunted to third base. She came home on a bunt by Stevens.
The Aggies scored the final run. Emily Nix doubled to center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth. She scored on a single by Sevie Carel to right field.
But that was the extent of the offense for Murray State. Carel was stranded on second and proved to be the final Murray State baserunner in the game.
The Falcons touched Murray State hurler McCoy for 12 hits and seven runs. McCoy struck out eight Falcons.
Jones, Brenton, Stevens and Hill each had two hits in the game.
Jones also scored once and drove in a run. Brenton scored twice.
Stevens scored once and drove in four while adding a sacrifice to her home run. Hill drove in one and was hit by a pitch.
Edler, Thompson, Galati and Scheer each had one hit.
Edler also sacrificed. Thompson and Galati scored runs. Scheer doubled, scored and drove home one run.
Nix led Murray State with two hits.
Kayla Pahcoddy and Sierra Golia each walked.