HANCEVILLE – The fourth-ranked Wallace State softball team captured the silver bracket championship over the weekend in the prestigious National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Junior College Leadoff Classic tournament played at Panama City Beach, Fla.
Wallace State finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, winning all three games in its championship bracket. Pool play action was highlighted by the Lady Lions' 30-4 drubbing of Wabash Valley College (Ill.)
After collecting only four RBIs during Wallace State's first 18 games, freshman infielder Megan Christensen emerged with an outstanding performance in Florida, finishing as an All-Tournament team selection after hitting .762 (16-for-21) with a homer, five doubles, 11 RBIs and seven runs scored.
Fellow freshman Whitney Brown was also named to the All-Tournament team after finishing with three homers and 10 RBIs in six games.
Wallace State (16-8) defeated Johnson County CC (Kan.), Iowa Lakes CC and Iowa Western to win the silver bracket title. The Lady Lions won two out of three games in pool play, beating Wabash and Iowa Lakes CC and losing to Tallahassee CC (Fla.).
"We were just a few runs shy of getting into the gold bracket, but there were great teams in the silver bracket we had to beat. We improved every game," said Wallace State coach Jayne Clem. "Several of our freshmen stepped up with big games. Whitney Brown is batting in the clean-up spot for us now and Megan Christensen is hitting in the number three spot. These two freshmen have really filled some holes in our lineup. I have never seen anyone as hot as Megan was during the weekend."
Wallace State's offense had a field day in a five-inning 30-4 victory against Wabash Valley, pounding out 26 hits on the strength of five home runs. The Lady Lions plated eight runs in the third and 12 in the fourth.
Brown finished 5-for-5 in the blowout with a grand slam, a two-run homer, seven RBIs and four runs scored. Jessica Bowman added a grand slam and scored two runs, Katie Pierce was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored, Heather Parker finished 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and four RBIs and Courtney Bailey contributed a three-run shot.
Christensen, Michal Robertson, Shawna Gregory, Madison Scott, Summer Wilkerson and Lauren Payne each added multiple-hit games for the Lady Lions.
Wallace State prevailed 9-2 against Iowa Western in the silver bracket championship game. The Lady Lions overcame a 2-0 deficit, scoring nine runs over the final four innings.
Christensen, a Grissom High graduate, set the tone offensively, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. Scott finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored, while Pierce was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Laurin Watts was the winning pitcher in a complete-game effort. She allowed two runs on seven hits, walked two and recorded three strikeouts.
Parker notched three wins on the mound for Wallace State, improving to 8-3 on the season. She pitched 16 2/3 innings and yielded only two runs on nine hits, walked four and struck out 20.
At the plate, Pierce finished the tournament 9-for-27 with eight runs scored, three RBIs, a double and a stolen base; Robertson had a homer and six runs scored; Chandler Orr had five hits, including three doubles; Scott finished with three-multi-hit games and seven RBIs, Bailey finished with six hits and four RBIs and Summer Wilkerson added four RBIs and three runs scored.
The three-day tournament featured 28 teams, most nationally-ranked, including defending champ Miami-Dade College.
Wallace State, the four-time defending state champion, is idle until March 16, when it hosts Seminole State CC (Okla.) in the squad's home debut. The doubleheader begins at 2 p.m.
"All of our players are contributing to the success of the team, but we still have a few things we need to work out," Clem said. "If we continue to improve each game, we will be a great team by the state tournament. Look for good things to come for the Wallace State Lady Lions."
For more information about Wallace State softball, visit wallacestate.edu or wscsoftball.com.