The Science and Arts Drovers secured their trip to the NAIA Softball World Series Wednesday, beating the Midland Warriors 9-2.
The season ended for the Warriors.
The Drovers jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the first on a double by freshman Darci Chester that scored juniors Keely Kingsly and Dakota Clouse.
In the second inning, the Warriors fought back. With junior Jamie Phares and sophomore Alexis Oden on first and second, freshman Andrea Cespedes hit a double that scored both of them to tie the game at 2-2.
The Warriors held the Drovers scoreless in the bottom of the second but were held scoreless in the top of the third. In the bottom of the third, the Drovers took the lead again on ground-rule double by senior Shania Beck. That scored one run to make the score 3-2.
The next batter was senior Caitlin Hall, and she hit a single that scored two more to make the score 5-2 before freshman pitcher Emily Cerny hit a line-drive to the shortstop who made the catch.
“They came into this game knowing they were gonna win it,” Drovers head coach Jadyn Wallis said about her team afterward. “There was no question to them, and when you have attitude like that, and you have a fight and battle like that, the sky’s the limit and it showed with the score of today’s game.”
Drovers freshman pitcher Emily Cerny threw another complete game. She allowed two runs, both of which were earned, walked nine, but struck out nine as well.
For the Warriors, junior Jaylee Hinrichs pitched five innings, allowing 10 hits, seven runs with seven earned and one walk. She struck out four in the final game.
“She is pry one of the better pitchers we faced all year,” Wallis said. “She keeps us off balance, she throws hard which makes it tough for us, we just made the adjustments, but she pitched a great game. Great game yesterday and she had a tremendous season.”
Sophomore Randa Hatter struck out twice in the team’s first game of the opening round on Monday, but hit a three-run home run in the first game Tuesday.
In the fourth inning Wednesday, she hit at solo shot.
“Randa’s had a very good tournament,” Wallis said. “She’s just one of those kids that once she gets on a role, she’s on. She’s a smart hitter too: You might get her once or twice, but you’re not gonna get her the rest of the day. She came through in the clutch, and that’s what we need going into the National Tournament.”
Hatter put Wednesday’s game even further out of reach in the bottom of the sixth inning when she hit a double that scored two more runs, putting the Drovers up by the final margin of 9-2.
After her slow performance Monday, Hatter said it felt good to redeem herself a bit over the rest of the opening round.
“I’m a better hitter than I put out to be, and I really wanted to just show that to my team and work for them,” Hatter said.
The NAIA Softball World Series runs from May 25-31st in Clermont, Florida.