TUCSON, Arizona – Like, Wow, man. Just Wow.
Coach Ron Faubion’s young ladies took Tucson by Storm as they swept all three days of the NCAA Division II Leadoff Classic over the weekend.
The LadyStorm knocked off No. 8 and No. 2 in Friday’s opening round, No. 6 and unranked (like Southeastern) Saturday, then beat the best of the rest Sunday to claim the overall championship. The Storm doubled Texas Woman’s University 6-3 in the Gold Bracket semifinals and polished off the dream trip with a 3-2 win over undefeated West Texas A&M University in the title tilt.
Coach Faubion said, “This was just a great overall team effort all three days. Our pitchers really picked each other up and that’s what you have to do to wins games like these.
“Beating the caliber of teams we beat here should give our kids plenty of incentive to realize we can play with anybody on our schedule. “We executed sacrifice bunts and suicide squeeze bunts. Those kinds of bunts mean players simply give themselves up to help the team. They don’t worry about personal stats, they just get the ball down.
“I know we surprised a lot of fans when our catcher (Courtney Moore) squeezed with two strikes for the winning run in the championship game. Jessica Simmons and Lacie Cook set things up with bunts.
“Our defense is greatly improved. If we get this kind of pitching and defense, we will be in most games.
“What I’m most proud of is that our kids just kept coming back. We would get down and rally, get down and rally. They just never quit.
“We had several fans there with us for the Classic and that just helped to make this a great trip.”
To ice the championship cake, Jacee Bennett was named the Most Valuable Pitcher and Simmons earned Most Valuable Player honors.
If it wasn’t nailed down, the Storm brought it home. Southeastern’s overall record is 14-3.
NCAA Division II Leadoff Classic Gold Bracket Championship:
LadyStorm 3 v. West Texas A&M 2
The LadyStorm broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Paige Priest legged out an infield single to start the rally and Rachel Jones sacrificed her to second. Simmons grounded to second to move Priest to third and Cook’s two-out single drove in the first run of the game.
An error at second extended the inning and Moore singled to left to drive in Cook and make it 2-0.
Mindy McElroy got the start and struggled a bit with her control, walking two and giving way to Bennett with three on and nobody out in the fourth.
Bennett allowed an infield single that drove in a run, then blanked the Lady Buffaloes until a single run in the seventh.
The Storm added an insurance run in the fifth that proved to be the winner. Cook opened with a double to left-center and moved to third on Darrian Williams’ sac bunt. Moore then singled home the huge run.
The Storm had three runs on seven hits and one error. WTAMU had two runs on nine hits and two errors.
Bennett picked up the win in relief, working 3.2 innings, walking one, striking out five, running her Classic record to 5-0 and her overall mark to 10-1.
Amber Spencer took the loss for the Lady Buffs, went 3.1 innings and dipped to 3-1. West Texas A&M suffered its first loss of the year and fell to 10-1.
Catcher Courtney (Speedy) Moore paced the Storm with three for three, two runs batted in and a squeeze bunt for the winning run.
Cook was two for three with a double and one RBI. Laramie Beal was one for one and Priest one for three with a run scored.
LadyStorm 6 v. Texas Woman’s 3
Bennett gave up a leadoff single, then slammed the door through the first three innings.
Southeastern didn’t score until leadoff hitter Simmons stole home in the bottom of the first.
Simmons opened with a single to left and moved over on Cook’s sac bunt. Moore was intentionally walked with two out and Whitney Hamilton also drew a walk on four-straight balls.
The stage was set with Speedy Moore at first and Simmons at third. Moore broke for second, stumbled and fell as the Pioneers’ catcher went for it and Simmons finished the double steal by sliding safely across the plate.
SE added a run in the third when Jones’ sac bunt plated pinch-runner Kelsey Overacker.
The LadyStorm added two in the third when a pair of wild pitches allowed pinch-runner Dakota Palmer and Hamilton to score and make it 4-0.
TWU picked up solo runs in the fourth and seventh on home runs and scored on a walk and double in the fifth.
The Storm added a pair in the fourth when Priest singled, Jones put down her second sac bunt, Simmons singled home a run and Williams drove in the second run of the inning and final run of the game.
Bennett allowed a leadoff homer in the seventh, then put the finishing touches on another complete game by putting down the next three in order.
Bennett gave up three runs on five hits, walked one and struck out eight. Simmons and Williams were two for three each to lead Southeastern. Simmons scored two, drove in one and stole two bases. Williams scored one and had one RBI.
Cook, Moore and Priest were each one for two for the winners. Beal was one for one.