Kingsport, TN- The St. Andrews University softball team continued their great play for the second straight day, upsetting a higher seeded opponent en route to landing a spot in the winner's bracket third round for the first time in school history.
The Lady Knights, led by coach of the year Elizabeth Burris, used another quality start by pitcher Kimberly Cook (FR/Ocean Isle Beach, NC) and a methodical offense to upset 2nd seeded Milligan College 5-3 on Wednesday evening at Domtar Park in Kingsport, TN. The second straight 5-3 upset victory guarantees the Knights at least third place overall in the league and a chance to qualify for the National Tournament with just two more wins.
Wednesday's victory puts St. Andrews (18-23) into game one of the winner's bracket finals where they will meet 12th ranked and top seeded Reinhardt University (39-8) at 3 pm Thursday afternoon.
Another win today will put St. Andrews into the Championship game on Friday whereas a loss means the Knights would have to win three games on Friday to qualify.
After Milligan (21-16) got on the board in the first inning to take the early 1-0 lead, SAU came right back to tie it with a Mekayla Valentine (FR/Danville, VA) solo home run. The Knights would then add to their lead with a Brooke Sikes (FR/Warrenton, NC) RBI double in the 4th inning. Then, in the 6th inning, SAU would add on two insurance runs as third basemen Amber Madden (SR/Sicklerville, NJ) singled and shortstop Kelsey Lee (JR/Erwin, NC) moved her to third with a double before a wild pitch scored Madden. Sikes then drove in Lee with her RBI single as she led the team with 2 RBIs and 2 hits in the game.
After Milligan would inch closer with two runs of their own in the 6th, the Lady Knights would add another insurance run in the 7th as Tuesday's hero, Jen George (JR/Xenia, OH) drove in center fielder Mary Cross (JR/Middleburg, FL) with a single to increase SAU's lead to 5-3.
Cook and reliever Kori Ballard (FR/Kersaw, SC) would then shut the door on Milligan in the 7th as Ballard recorded the final out to pick up the save. Cook's final pitching line had her going 6 and 2/3 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), on one walk and 7 strikeouts as she got the win to improve to 8-8 on the year. She has also recorded 13 strikeouts over the last two days.