BENTONVILLE — The No. 1 seed UAM Cotton Blossoms defeated the No. 8 seed Ouachita Baptist Tigers 9-1 in their opening game and then followed up with a 1-0 win over Southwestern Oklahoma in the nightcap to advance in the winners bracket at the 2012 GAC Softball Tournament.
Kayla Jackson got the complete-game win in the run-rule shortened outing against OBU. She also got the scoring going in the first inning with a two-run blast over the left field wall that gave the Blossoms the lead they would not relinquish.
Maggie Sands had a big game at the plate, with three hits, including a lead-off triple in the first inning to get on for Jackson’s homerun. She added singles in her other two at-bats. Beth Johnson and Katie Bowman had two RBIs each.
For the game, the Blossoms had seven hits off OBU’s Rayn House. The Tiger ace went 4.2 innings, giving up seven hits with five walks and four strikeouts. Jackson picked up the win in five innings, allowing the one unearned run on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Game two was much quieter, offensively speaking. Both teams combined for just eight hits in the game, four to UAM and four to SWOSU.
The Bulldogs had no answer for Kayla Jackson, as the senior threw seven innings of scoreless ball, with no walks and five strikeouts. The four times that SWOSU connected, they were quickly stifled by strong defensive assists on the part of the Blossom fielders. Southwestern stranded three in the game.
The Blossoms got the winning run in the fourth inning. With two outs in the inning, SWOSU hurler Katrina Johnson hit Taylor Russell and Brittany Eitel to put a threat on the bases with no hits. Beth Johnson came up and hit a scorcher to left that was quickly fielded by Summer Blackowl to keep Russell at third.
Then, with the bases loaded, Katie Bowman hit a line drive past the outstretched glove of the Bulldog shortstop to allow Russell to waltz home with the eventual winning run.
With the win, the Blossoms advance in the winners bracket of the tournament to face the No. 6 seed Southern Arkansas Muleriders. SAU knocked off the No. 2 seed Southeastern Oklahoma Savage Storm in the night’s preceding matchup, 2-0 in nine innings.
Game time is slated for 3 p.m., but will not begin until the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. games wrap up. Stay informed with the full schedule at the tournament website at www.greatamericanconference.com/sports.