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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Softball completes four-run comeback to advance to AAC Championship semifinals

Senior+Addison+Barnard+runs+to+cheering+teammates+after+a+home+run+on+April+20.+The+Shockers+beat+UAB%2C+9-1+at+Wilkins+Stadium.
Garima Thapa
Senior Addison Barnard runs to cheering teammates after a home run on April 20. The Shockers beat UAB, 9-1 at Wilkins Stadium.

On Thursday afternoon, Wichita State’s softball team trailed 8-4 going into the bottom of the fifth inning and rallied off seven runs en route to an 11-9 comeback win.

The fourth-seeded Shockers beat the fifth-seeded University of Tulsa in the second round of the American Athletic Conference Championship to advance to the semifinals.

Wichita State improved to a 27-21 overall record and the Golden Hurricanes ended their season with a record of 30-23.

In the first inning, Wichita State trailed 2-0 after Tulsa hit a two-RBI home run. Senior CC Wong answered with a leadoff double and senior Addison Barnard followed up with a two-RBI home run, her fourth of the tournament, to tie the game.

To close out the Shockers’ side of the first, sophomore Sami Hood hit an RBI double to take a 3-2 lead.

The second, third and fourth innings saw good defense as the teams combined for three hits. In the top of the fourth, Barnard saved a run from scoring as she rifled the ball from her center-field position to get the tag-out at home.

“We make practices very game-like, so we’ve done it 100 times,” Barnard said. “I just went after that ball, and I was relaxed and confident with my throw and a good outcome happened.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Shockers loaded the bases with one out but managed just one run as junior Caroline Tallent crossed home plate on a Wong walk, 4-2.

With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, the Golden Hurricanes rallied off six runs, managing five of the 11 hits they had during the game, 8-4.

“The teams in this tournament can hit,” head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “They can put up big numbers really quickly on you, and we’ve got to be able to respond in those moments.”

Respond is exactly what the Shockers did, answering with seven runs in their half of the fifth to take back the lead, 11-8.

With the bases loaded, Tallent started the scoring rally by reaching first base on a fielder’s choice and advancing to second on a throwing error, allowing Hood and redshirt senior Bailey Urban to cross home plate, 8-6. Senior Jessica Garcia hit an RBI groundout for the Shockers’ third run of the inning, 8-7.

Junior Krystin Nelson reached on a throwing error and Wong walked to load the bases again. The hot-hitting Barnard walked to the plate as the crowd erupted with “M-V-P” chants.

With the crowd behind her, Barnard rocketed a grand slam, her fifth home run of the tournament, over the right-field fence to give the Shockers an 11-8 lead.

Barnard said she knew her at-bat was a big moment.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to put a good swing on a good pitch,’” Barnard said. “That’s what I did. I can’t believe the outcome, and I’m so glad for this team because we’re just too good to get (knocked) out now.”

Barnard finished the game 2-for-3 with two home runs and racked up six RBIs. Barnard is now 6-for-7 with 11 RBIs during the AAC Championship.

Tulsa scored its final run in the top of the seventh inning to decide the final score.

Freshman Chloe Barber earned her fourth save this season despite starting on the mound with five strikeouts, giving up six runs on seven hits in 6 ⅓-innings. Sophomore Alex Aguilar earned her seventh win, giving up two hits in ⅓-innings.

“We know we have it in us and clearly we do have it in us,” Hood said. “We’re not going to give up until the very end, whether we’re down 8-4, or up 8-4, we’re going to have the same fight in us no matter what.”

Wichita State softball will play against Florida Atlantic University in the AAC Championship semifinals on Friday. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Owen Prothro
Owen Prothro, Reporter
Owen Prothro is a reporter for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, studying journalism and media production. This is Prothro’s first year on staff. He also competes in disc golf at Wichita State. Prothro uses he/him pronouns.
Garima Thapa
Garima Thapa, Photographer
Garima Thapa is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower.

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