NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State softball team nearly came away with a sweep on Sunday afternoon in the Spartan Classic. Hartford had other ideas, however, as the Hawks rallied with four runs in the seventh and then held off the Spartans at the NSU Softball Field.
NSU had been riding high after defeating Buffalo earlier in the day by a 4-2 score, the Spartans’ second win over the Bulls on the weekend. Norfolk State was on the way to a victory in the next game against Hartford. Down by one heading into the seventh, the Hawks surged ahead with their rally, only to watch NSU score two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
But with the bases loaded and just one out, NSU was unable to push across the tying or winning runs to fall by a 6-5 margin.
It certainly was a wild ending to the last game of the tournament. Hartford’s Amber Mianti belted a solo homer with one out in the top of the seventh to tie the score at 3-3. A pair of singles followed by an error on NSU put the Hawks up by one. Lexi Wilkerson then followed with a two-run double to left to make it 6-3.
The Spartans did not go quietly.
Freshman Alyssa Cowan led off the bottom of the inning with a pinch-hit home run in just her second at bat of the season. Junior Seana Moriarty walked, and one out later senior Kayla McNair reached on an error. Freshman Meaghan Barfield then singled home another run, and a walk loaded the bases still with just one out.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, the rally ended there. Hartford starter Bianca Ross struck out the last two batters looking to end the tournament.
Ross (1-1) finished with seven strikeouts and allowed five runs, three earned, on eight hits and five walks. Hartford ran its record to 2-2.
Przeslawski helped herself in the circle by blasting a homer to straight away center field in the second inning. Brittany Wallace had an answer for Hartford in the next half inning, crushing one to deep left center to tie it up.
Barfield singled in the fourth, and two batters later Bitler lofted one over the left fielder’s head to put runners on second and third. Junior Julianne Gillo then lined one to left in the next at bat that Kristen DeCiantis misplayed ever so slightly. The ball bounced off the top of her glove, allowing two runs to score for a 3-1 Spartan lead.
The Hawks got a run back in the fifth when Elizabeth Newkirk hit an RBI double off the very top of the wall in center.
Norfolk State and Buffalo, meanwhile, combined to leave 21 runners on base in the prior game. Spartan starter Hunter Halford gave up 12 hits in all seven innings but allowed just two runs, one earned.
Norfolk State managed just five hits but was able to manufacture enough runs to win.
Some smart baserunning gave the Spartans the first run of the game. Sophomore Shelby DesChamps walked to start the first and went to third when Moriarty’s sacrifice bunt attempt was booted by the Bulls. Junior Jaylene Pryor then hit a grounder to third, and DesChamps took off for home on the throw to first to make it 1-0.
Ally Power hit an RBI single in the second to tie it up, but NSU got the run back in the bottom of the frame. A pair of walks around a single by Gillo loaded the bases, and relief pitcher Bobbi Langlois was called for an illegal pitch. The Bulls did make a pair of great plays after that on line drives by the Spartans to prevent any more runs from scoring.
Barfield and Halford each singled in the third, and then with one out and runners on the corners, Bitler hit a grounder to short. Instead of getting the sure out at first, Jenelle Martinez tried to get Barfield at home but was too late with the throw as NSU extended its lead to two.
Moriarty belted a solo homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the fourth, and then in the fifth NSU made a pair of great plays to keep it a 4-1 game. First, with Jessica Goldyn sitting on second, Essence Savinon singled into left field. Goldyn attempted to score, but DesChamps gunned her out at home with a perfect throw to the plate. Then with Savinon at second, Gabby Keller singled over the head of Pryor into shallow left center. Savinon, though, got caught in a rundown between third and home.
Karlie Fernandez made it 4-2 with an RBI single in the sixth with no outs, but Halford escaped without any more damage. She also worked out of a jam in the seventh as Buffalo left four runners on base in those last two innings.
Buffalo fell to 2-8 on the year.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com