Morgan closes strong as Piedmont pulls upset on in-state rival Emory
SALEM, Va. -- Fans traveling with Piedmont got all they bargained for Saturday in a thrilling 4-3 victory against in-state rival and national power Emory.
Twice coming back from deficits on the day, the Lady Lions won the game dramatically on the heels of yet another late 3-run inning with a powerful sixth and lights out seventh in the field helping seal the deal for a huge postseason win.
In two of the first four innings that freshman Jordin Ellingson threw, she sat down the Eagles in order taking care of Emory's potent lineup with little issues. The sole trouble came in the first inning as Emory earned a run to take a 1-0 lead though the Eagles only tallied a pair of hits through four complete.
Bottom of fourth looked to be Piedmont's chance to tie it up at one a piece as Jamie Dennis reached first and was bunted across by youngster Tori Mitchell. Dennis would slide into third on an Emory wild pitch, but a pair of ground outs squleched the rally.
When another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth for the young Piedmont pitcher kept the green and gold within a single run, it was time for the Lady Lions' scrappy hitting to take over.
As Whitney Wolfe slapped a hit through the right side of the infield, Piedmont again would get a runner on to take aim at the Emory advantage. Senior Megan McClain then moved her teammate across with a grounded ball to short, and Wolfe's speed started to creep in the mind of the Eagles.
After a pop up, it was freshman slugger Olivia Duncan with a chance at the plate to get the Lady Lions on the board. Three for five up to this point in the tournament, Duncan improved her NCAA average with a loop base hit over the head of the Eagles' third baseman. Wolfe scored from second on the Duncan base hit with her speed making it less than a close play at home as Piedmont tied it up at 1-1.
As Ellingson was pulled even for the first time since the opening inning, Emory looked to grab the lead back quickly, something that a lead off double in the top of the 6th would ensure as a sac fly got the Eagles back up by one. EU then got an insurance run off a homer from the middle of the order before Piedmont could get out of the inning as Emory once again pulled ahead 3-1.
Heading to the bottom of the same frame, Piedmont looked to steal the thunder of the game. Trailing by two with one out and opportunities disappearing, a walk and a hit-by-pitch would put two runners on for the Lady Lions as they continued to keep the bags busy.
Picther Jordin Ellingson then helped her own cause singling down the right field line to score Abby Smith from second and keep runners at first and second for PC. An infield single from Whitney Wolfe loaded the bases for Piedmont before Emory could collect a second out.
It was then up to one of the four seniors on the decorated Lady Lions as veteran Taylor Morgan stepped up to the plate. Morgan, a Colbert native, delivered with her 28th but most important hit of 2013 as she leathered an Emory offering to left field off the barrel of the bat scoring teammates Ellingson and Heather Williams.
Those two runs helped Piedmont overcome a two-run deficit to grab a 4-3 lead heading into the top of the seventh as just three outs stood in front of PC and a spot in winner's bracket championship game.
Though fourth-ranked Emory would make the traveling green and gold fans nervous, the Lady Lions would get the three outs needed all ironically enough coming from three of the team's four seniors. A fly out to centerfielder Taylor Morgan, a fielder's choice for Jamie Dennis, and a pop up to first baseman Megan Kesler put the exclamation point on a huge win for head coach Terry Martin and his band of never-quit players.
For the day, Eslinger was mostly brilliant minus two bumpy innings. She finished the day with a trio of strikeouts against a formidable Emory side allowing just three runs on six hits with three of those hits coming in the first and sixth innings, the only two frames that the Eagles tabbed runs.
Leading at the plate was the senior Morgan who went 1-for-3 as her hit to left accounted for the tying and winning runs that PC stacked in the bottom of the 6th. Piedmont outhit its nationally ranked opponent 7-6 holding that advantage throughout much of the day.
The win moves Piedmont to 2-0 in the tourney and 33-8 overall on the season.