Lions rally late to advance in World Series

UNA freshman catcher Mackenzie Roberts applies the tag to net an out at the plate against Adelphi University May 18 at the Division II Softball National Championship in Denver. Roberts received the throw from sophomore left fielder Bailey Nelson to prevent a run.

After falling behind 1-0 in the fifth inning, the UNA softball team put together five runs en route to a 5-1 victory over Adelphi University to advance in the NCAA Division II Softball Championship.

Three errors by the Panthers sparked UNA’s run parade, as freshman Mackenzie Roberts started the inning with a single. Following Roberts, senior Peyton DeLong reached on an error, and pinch runner Destiny Wright advanced to third base.

After tying the game with a run off a fielding error at shortstop, senior Courtney Shields doubled to drive in DeLong, taking a 2-1 lead. After senior Harlie Barkley sacrificed another run in for UNA, sophomore Reagan Tittle drove in two runs with an RBI single, capping the scoring with a 5-1 lead.

“Any time you can get a win here (in the World Series), it’s great,” said UNA coach Ashley Cozart. “I don’t think we had the best bats at the plate today, but what I love most is that (Adelphi) scored that one inning, and we came back and answered with five runs. That just shows a lot of heart.”

Junior pitcher Raven Cole took the circle for UNA, allowing one run on four hits. Junior Hillary Carpenter came in to relieve Cole after allowing the run. Carpenter added to her shutout inning total, finishing the game with two hits in 2.1 innings of work.

Shields, who had two hits, one run and one RBI, said her biggest motivation is knowing this will be her last opportunity as a senior to win a national championship.

“I know I can’t go any further (in my career) after this,” Shields said. “This is my last time, so I’m just going up to the plate and having fun. Knowing (any moment) could be my last at-bat, I’m going to do something productive for somebody.”

As the six UNA seniors attempt to go out with a bang, sophomore Bailey Nelson said she, along with her underclassmen teammates, would love nothing more than to help her senior teammates hoist the NCAA championship trophy.

“In the conference tournament, I started writing (Shields’) initials on my wrist because I don’t want her end her season just yet,” Nelson said. I want to do everything in my power for the seniors to keep them playing and end with a national championship.”

The Lions will find out their opponent tomorrow, as they gear up to play at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. UNA is 2-0 in tournament play and must lose twice to be eliminated. A win tomorrow puts the Lions in the championship series.