Best in league


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BENTONVILLE — The Arkansas-Monticello softball team completed its quest for a Great American Conference Tournament crown Saturday afternoon with a 9-2 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State in the tournament finals.

With the win UAM improved to 40-14 and will now play the waiting game for a berth into the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament that begins later this week.

“We did everything we could do,” UAM coach Alvy Early said. “We’ve heard there is going to be some oversight committee looking at it, but we won’t know until Monday when the selections are announced.”

Early said regardless of the decision by the voters, the Blossoms turned in a successful season.

“We’ve had a good season,” he said. “I know we are a good team and deserve to be there. We won the three-month battle in the conference and the three-day battle in the tournament. This is a great tribute to these players.”

Kayla Jackson picked up the complete-game win for the Blossoms, surrendering four hits and one walk while striking out 10. Jackson was selected Tournament Most Valuable Player after pitching UAM to all four tournament victories.

“She didn’t give up an earned run until today,” Early said. “She was just outstanding for us, just as she has been all year.”

UAM jumped out to a first-inning lead when Taylor Russell singled home Beth Johnson for a 1-0 lead. The Savage Storm would plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame and held that advantage until the top of the fourth inning when Brittany Eitel singled up the middle with one out and scored when senior shortstop Jennifer Hickman followed with a run-producing triple in the right-center field gap to tie the affair.

Summer Huddleston put the Blossoms up 4-2 with a single to right that scored Hickman and Katie Bowman, who reached on an infield single. Maggie Sands plated the final run of the inning with a single back up the middle.

Two runs each in the fifth and sixth put the game away for UAM and secured the inaugural GAC Tournament title for the Blossoms. The regional field will be announced by the NCAA on Monday.

In addition to Jackson MVP honors, Hickman, Sands, Huddleston and Bowman were placed on the All-Tournament team.