GULFPORT, Miss. – After enduring a four-plus hour weather delay, the Texas Southern softball team finally hit the diamond and earned a tough a 3-2 win over Alcorn State in its 2021 SWAC Tournament opener.
With every play magnified in postseason and runs at a premium, TSU jumped out quick as Pamela Richardson led the game off with a double before moving over to third on a sac bunt. After a TSU ground out which made it two outs, Tevanae Tate hit a ball which bounced off the pitcher’s glove that was fielded by the second baseman. Tate’s instincts set in as she attempted the rare slide into first base which caused the ASU second baseman to short arm the ball and allowed Richardson to score for the 1-0 lead.
From there, TSU rode the arm of SWAC Pitcher of the Year Naomi Reyes as the junior held ASU scoreless for four innings. In the third, TSU received some breathing room despite having two outs as Crimson Davis singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Paige Jackson drew a walk and once again, Tate came up big with a two-run triple for a 3-0 lead.
TSU would run into trouble in the fifth as a high throw allowed ASU to lead the inning off with a baserunner. ASU would hit a sac bunt followed by Miracle Crosby’s single. Back-to-back walks would load the bases and give ASU a free run followed by a wild pitch which scored another run for a 3-2 TSU lead. Despite the pressure mounting on the bases, Reyes stayed calm, cool and collected as she struck out the final two batters to end the inning.
ASU had two runners on in the sixth with two outs but Reyes came through again with an inning-ending strikeout. TSU had a chance to score in the bottom frame as Daryn Haslam opened with a leadoff triple but couldn’t capitalize as the score remained the same.
In the final inning, ASU hit a deep ball to left but Julia Bilbao quickly adjusted for the first out followed by Reyes’ 11th strikeout. Alcorn State’s Marsha Hunt kept the inning alive with a double and a walk allowed the go-ahead run to reach base. But once again, Reyes and the defense didn’t buckle as she forced a 1-3 game-ending out.
Tate led TSU with two RBI and a hit while Richardson, Davis and Jackson all scored runs.
TSU is back in action tomorrow afternoon against Alabama State at 3 p.m.