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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Heartbreak on home turf: Wichita State softball loses against Charlotte in AAC Championship title game

Wichita+State+softball+team+talks+in+between+innings+against+Memphis.+WSU+beat+Memphis+three+days+in+a+row+for+a+sweep.
Garima Thapa
Wichita State softball team talks in between innings against Memphis. WSU beat Memphis three days in a row for a sweep.

The Wichita State softball team’s run through the AAC Championship tournament was stopped just short of the finish line on Saturday in a 10-1 loss in five innings against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte during the AAC title game.

The Shockers’ record dropped to 28-22 overall after the loss, and the 49ers improved to 38-16, earning an automatic bid to an NCAA regional tournament.

Wichita State head coach Kristi Bredbenner said Charlotte came in with a good game plan and executed it well.

“They were better than us today,” Bredbenner said.

For the first time in the tournament, Wichita State was held to zero runs through four innings and managed four hits as a team during the game. The Shockers scored their only run in the top of the fifth after redshirt senior Bailey Urban hit an RBI single, scoring senior Addison Barnard.

Barnard came into the game hitting 7-for-9 during the tournament and set a tournament record with six home runs. The 49ers pitched around Barnard’s hot bat and walked her in all three plate appearances.

In the first inning, Charlotte silenced the crowd after hitting a leadoff home run to take a 1-0 advantage. Freshman pitcher Chloe Barber dug deep for the rest of the inning, striking out two batters and coercing a popup for the third out.

The 49ers’ momentum rolled into the second inning as they put up seven more runs, 8-0. Sophomore Arianna Rodi from Charlotte punctuated the inning for the 49ers as she hit a grand slam, her second home run of the game.

“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Bredbenner said. “And unfortunately (they) got some really big hits in that inning.”

In the third inning, the Shockers managed to hold the 49ers to zero runs. With one out, Sophomore Alex Aguilar came onto the mound and found two quick strikeouts with the bases loaded to retire the side. 

In the fourth inning, Wichita State loaded the bases with one out but failed to take advantage of the situation as the next two batters struck out swinging, retiring the side. With two outs, Wong hit a line drive to left field that was ruled a foul ball despite protests from Bredbenner.

“To me, that’s a game changer,” Bredbenner said. “It’s a tough call for an umpire. I wouldn’t want to be an umpire in this day and age because the fans, the coaches, the players, everybody’s all on them.”

Wichita State left nine runners on base during the game. Charlotte scored its last two runs in its half of the fourth to decide the final score as Wichita State was run-ruled.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Barnard said that the team means the world to her.

“I came out of this program as a better person,” Barnard said. “And that’s all that really matters.”

Sophomore Sami Hood, and seniors Lainee Brown, CC Wong and Barnard were honored as a part of the all-tournament team.

For now, Wichita State’s softball team will play the waiting game to determine whether or not they will be selected as an at-large bid for an NCAA regional tournament. The NCAA selection show is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m.

“I’m going to be sitting in my office until 11 p.m. tonight and all day tomorrow,” Bredbenner said. “ We’ll see what happens. We’ve got a strong resume, we played a great schedule, we’ve got some top-25 wins. Those will go a long way, but I think we probably need(ed) to win this game.”

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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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