GULF SHORES, Ala. — Behind a complete game shutout from freshman Jessa Watts, the Lee University Lady Flames softball team passed their first test in NAIA national tournament Pool Play Thursday defeating No. 22 Reinhardt University, 2-0.
Watts was solid in the circle, scattering six hits in seven innings of work. The lefty struck out three and walked one to move to 18-6. “Jessa was awesome. A couple times she pitched out of jams and we made some great plays defensively,” said Lee head coach Emily Russell.
Lee (47-10) opened the scoring in the first with Jennifer Ringle drilling a double and later scoring when Ana Coscorrosa reached on a fielder’s choice. Dominique Hannah produced the only other run in the contest reaching on a fielder’s choice in the fifth before stealing second and third and scoring on a throwing error by catcher Ashley Kennedy.
“We played with a lot of energy and intensity today,” said Russell. “I’m very happy. Ringle’s double really set the tone and we played aggressively and scratched out those runs.”
Reinhardt’s best scoring opportunity came in the top of the third inning. The Lady Eagles (34-12) loaded the bases with one out before Kennedy grounded back to Watts, who turned the 1-2-3 double play, ending the threat. “The double play was a big momentum shift, even though we were only up 1-0 it really seemed like more at that point,” added Russell.
The Lee ladies totaled four hits in the contest, one each from the top four hitters in the lineup. In addition to Ringle’s double and run scored, Savanna Bell, Kelsey Barnes and Coscorrosa each registered singles.
Reinhardt was led by a 2-for-3 performance by Jennie Chamness with four other players each adding one hit. Maddie Monroe (20-8) pitched the entire contest for the Lady Eagles, allowing two runs in six innings striking out five and walking three. The losing squad committed a pair of errors compared to no miscues for the Lee defense.
“Their pitcher, Maddie (Monroe), was on,” complimented Russell. “She was the conference pitcher of the year for them, but we had some heads-up base running and took advantage of what they gave us.”
The 13th-ranked Lady Flames continue pool play today taking on Morningside College out of Iowa at 3 p.m. EDT. Lee then takes on No. 4 Central Baptist College from Arkansas Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The winner of the pool advances to the eight team, double elimination bracket Monday.
All Region Team announced
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced its NAIA All-Region teams, Thursday naming four Lady Flames to the All-East Region list. Senior pitcher Brittany Balough was joined by fellow senior and second baseman Kelsey Barnes, junior shortstop Jennifer Ringle and sophomore first baseman Ana Coscorrosa.