ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - A favorite to win the 2012 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Softball Championship, Delaware State bowed out early Thursday after a 6-4 loss at the hands of Savannah State, the Hornets' second defeat of the day, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
The early elimination marks the first time since the 1999 season, and the first in DSU head coach Jeff Savage's career, that the Hornets lost their only two games played in the double elimination tournament.
Through the first two and a half innings, it was a pitcher's duel between DSU sophomore Rachel Meagley (Spokane, Wash.) and SSU junior Madison Hedderly. The two combined to give up just four hits and no runs.
The Hornets got on board first as freshman Bria Green (Wheatley Heights, N.Y.) led off the bottom of the third with a double to right field. Senior Jordan Reid (Accokeek, Md.) then attempted the sac bunt, but a throwing error from Hedderly sent Reid to second and allowed Green to score the first run of the game. Hedderly responded by sitting the next three batters down in order to end the frame.
DSU didn't hold on to their lead long as the Lady Tigers scored four runs on five hits in the top of the fourth to take the 4-1 advantage.
Things were looking bleak for the Hornets as they were down to their final six outs of the game, and the tournament, in the bottom of the sixth before DSU rallied at tied the game at 4-4.
With one out, senior Breanne Parr (Camarillo, Calif.) doubled down the right field line. Two batters later, fellow senior Chelsea Stern (Owings, Md.) singled off of third base and advanced to second as Parr scored. Freshman Kelsey Doherty (Harbeson, Del.) then reached on an error by Katherine Stewart at first base, allowing another run to score in Stern. Junior Skye Boris (Magnolia, Del.) followed with a game-tying RBI double down the left field line before the end of the inning.
Once again, the Hornets didn't have time to enjoy the score as the MEAC Rookie of the Year, Amber Hallman, singled up the middle and then Hedderly sent a home run over the right field fence to give Savannah State the final 6-4 lead.
Boris and Green led Del State from the plate, respectively going 2-for-3 and 2-for-4 on the day, each with a double. Green added a run scored while Boris posted an RBI. In her lone at-bat, Stern went 1-for-1 with a run and RBI.
Hallman led the Lady Tigers, going 4-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base.
Meagley finished the game, giving up five hits, four earned runs and one walk while striking out six in 3.2 innings of work. Sophomore Stephanie Sarris (Rohnert Park, Calif.) took the loss for the Hornets to move to 8-5 on the year. Sarris went 3.1 innings, giving up six hits, two earned runs and one walk.
Hedderly picked up her 17th win of the season for Savannah State (25-23), going 7.0 innings and giving up four runs (one earned) and seven hits while striking out three.
The Hornets and Lady Tigers met in the rare matchup of No. 1 seeds in the first game of the consolation bracket as both teams were upset in the first games of the day. Del State, the No. 1 seed in the north was stunned in a 3-1 loss to North Carolina A&T, the No. 4 seed in the south. The Lady Tigers, who were the No. 1 seed in the south, were upset by the north's No. 4 Hampton, 5-4 in eight innings Thursday morning.
Delaware State wraps up 2012 season with a 25-18-1 overall mark. The 18 losses are the fewest in DSU history since 1994 when the Hornets were 18-10.