Reynolds delivers walk-off homer in last of 11th to give Armstrong 5-4 victory
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Armstrong Atlantic State designated player Rachel Reynolds led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a solo home run to give the No. 4-ranked Pirates a 6-5 victory against Anderson (S.C.) in the first game of the 2013 NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional on Friday.
The Pirates (41-8-1) now hold a 1-0 lead heading into Saturday's final day of the regional. Armstrong needs just one more win while Anderson (40-14) needs to sweep a pair of games to advance to the NCAA DII Softball Championship next week in Salem, Va. Game 2 of the super regional will be at noon ET Saturday, with the if necessary game coming at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Armstrong looked like it had the game wrapped up much earlier when the Pirates took a 5-2 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning, but the Trojans' Molly Child drilled a two-run home run to right field and Bailey Smith followed one out later with a solo shot to center to tie things at 5-all and send the game into extra innings.
Each team had chances to win the game in extra innings as Anderson's best opportunity came in the top of the 10th inning with runners at first and third with one out, but Charlotte Sieber lined out to short and Jessica Neidigh's ball to center field became a shoestring catch by the Pirates' Shelby Duff to end the threat.
Armstrong had two on with one out in the eighth inning and a runner at second with two outs in the ninth, but Smith was able to work out of the jams.
After Megan Barnwell set down the Trojans in order in the top of the 11th inning, Reynolds drove the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th over the left-field wall for the walk-off win -- the second extra-inning walk-off win for the Pirates in this NCAA championship. Armstrong got a solo shot from Duff in the ninth of a 5-4 win against Wingate last Saturday in the Southeast 1 Regional.
Armstrong built a 5-2 lead thanks to single runs in the first inning, on an RBI single by Hannah Reppert, and the second inning, on a bases-loaded walk to pinch hitter Bridget Devlin. Anderson got one back in the third inning on a fielder's choice, but the Pirates plated two in the bottom of the fourth on an error and a fielder's choice.
Danielle Swygert's RBI double in the fifth made the score 4-2, then the Pirates added a run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Duff, setting up the seventh-inning dramatics.
Barnwell (26-4) picked up the win, hurling 11 innings of eight-hit ball, giving up five runs and six walks while striking out six.
Smith (18-8) took the loss in relief for the Trojans, giving up six hits and the one run in 5.1 innings of work, walking one and striking out two.
Smith, Neidigh and Danielle Swygert each had two hits in the game to pace Anderson, while Armstrong was led at the plate by Duff, Reppert and Kacie Patterson, each with three hits.
Armstrong left 16 runners on base, while Anderson stranded 11 runners.
• Super Regional Results