Blossoms capture GAC title

MONTICELLO — Arkansas-Monticello will forever be remembered as the first regular-season champion of Great American Conference softball.

UAM wrapped up the championship at home Sunday with a 3-2 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State, but the Bulldogs ended hopes of a series sweep by beating the Cotton Blossoms 10-1.

The Blossoms (36-14, 21-6 GAC) trailed 2-0 going into the fourth inning before they got the offense going. Jennifer Hickman got a leadoff double to center, putting herself in scoring position for Sara Matthews to drive pinch runner Chasity Desselle in with a single.

Southwestern (30-18, 14-14 GAC) managed to cling to a one-run lead until the bottom of the sixth. Taylor Russell led the inning with a walk, and Matthews sent the ball deep over the left center wall to put the Blossoms on top, 3-2.

Kayla Jackson closed out her 27th win with a groundout, a strikeout, and another grounder in the seventh to leave the tying run stranded at third. Jackson went the full seven innings, allowing the two runs in the first on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Game 2 did not go the Blossoms’ way, as SWOSU piled on with 10 runs on 14 hits. UAM’s sole run came in the fourth inning. Brittany Eitel sent a ball ricocheting off the advertisements above the left-center fence.

Southwestern got most of its offense in a six-run fifth inning that put the game out of reach. The Bulldogs got five hits in the inning including a two-out three-run home run from Kristina Davis.

Katie Slaughter took the loss in the second game, giving up five runs on eight hits with one walk and no strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings pitched.

UAM will face Ouachita Baptist at 2 p.m. Thursday in the GAC tournament in Bentonville.