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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Softball advances to AAC Championship final after run-ruling Florida Atlantic

Bryan Chavez
Addison Barnard slides into second after hitting a double against Florida Atlantic on March 9.

Wichita State’s softball team advanced to the American Athletic Conference Championship final after beating Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the semifinals, 12-2 in five innings. 

The victory on Friday afternoon for the Shockers is their second game decided by run rule during the AAC Championship. Wichita State has now outscored its opponents 36-11 in the tournament.

The fourth-seeded Shockers’ record improved to 28-21 overall and the first-seeded Owls ended their season at 41-14.

Wichita State’s last meeting against FAU was on March 10, a 17-5 run rule loss for the Shockers. Senior Addison Barnard said the meeting against the Owls in the semifinals was a revenge game.

“I just feel like we weren’t the team we are now,” Barnard said. “So this game was huge for us because we were going to show them what we’re actually made of.”

Barnard continued her tournament-long hot streak in the top of the first inning, hitting a two-RBI home run to take an early lead. It was Barnard’s sixth home run of the tournament, as she finished the game 1-for-2 with two RBIs, walking twice.

Due to seeding, Wichita State was the away team. Barnard said that batting first in front of a home crowd gave the Shockers an advantage.

“We get to start the rally … which is huge,” Barnard said. “Because once we get going, it’s hard to stop. So being able to get those two runs right off the bat was really important for us.”

Wichita State gave up no runs in the bottom of the first inning and extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the second after senior CC Wong hit an RBI single and sophomore Taylor Sedlacek hit an RBI sacrifice flyout. FAU scored its first run in the bottom of the second, 4-1.

In the top of the third inning, the Shockers rallied for seven more runs to extend their lead to 11-1. Wichita State loaded the bases and senior Jessica Garcia sparked the scoring rally with an RBI lineout.

Junior Krystin Nelson came to the plate and smacked a three-RBI home run that barely made it out of the stadium, bouncing off the right-field fence. Nelson said the team went into the game well-prepared for what was thrown at them.

“We saw two pitchers in three innings and that says a lot about our preparation,” Nelson said. “We were ready to go, knew what to expect and jumped on the pitches that were ready to hit.”

Redshirt senior Bailey Urban capped off the seven-run rally with a three-RBI no-doubt home run that nearly hit the scoreboard to give the Shockers its 10-run advantage. Urban said she didn’t expect the ball to go over the fence because she’s “not your typical home run hitter.”

The Owls scored their final run in the bottom of the third inning, 11-2. In the top of the fourth, Garcia hit an RBI double to decide the final score.

Head coach Kristi Bredbenner said assistant coach Easton Herring put together a great game plan and that the team executed it.

“I thought we did exactly what we expected,” Bredbenner said. “We executed; we knew the speeds; we knew tendencies; and we looked for certain pitches. We got them and capitalized on them.”

Wichita State hit 9-for-22 as a team during the semifinals and its 12 runs came via RBI. Sophomore Sami Hood hit 3-for-4, scoring a run and Urban hit 2-for-4 with her three-RBI home run.

Freshman Chloe Barber earned her 10th win on the mound this season after giving up two runs on three hits in three innings pitched.

Wichita State softball will play in the AAC Championship final on Saturday against the second-seeded University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.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.
Bryan Chavez
Bryan Chavez, Photographer
Bryan Chavez is a first-year photographer for The Sunflower. He is a freshman at Wichita State, majoring in Journalism and Media Production. Chavez is from Dallas, Texas, and wants to pursue a career as a professional sports photographer. Chavez's pronouns are he/him.

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