Texas State softball (38-12 overall, 17-6 Sun Belt) was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference Championship as it lost 4-3 to the University of South Alabama Jaguars (30-18 overall, 13-9 Sun Belt).
This was the first elimination game of the tournament for the No. 2 seeded Bobcats as they lost 4-3 to the No. 1 University of Louisiana in the semi-finals. On the other hand, No. 4 South Alabama came into the matchup off a 10-6 victory over No. 3 Troy University. The winner of this game would play Louisiana for the Sun Belt title.
Despite the stakes of the contest, the Bobcats' primary pitchers, freshman Jessica Mullins and senior Meagan King did not play.
Senior pitcher Dalilah Barrera started at the circle instead and held the Jaguars scoreless through three innings.
Entering the fourth, the Bobcats were first on the scoreboard as an error from the Jaguars' right fielder allowed senior outfielder Kylie George to run home.
South Alabama responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run from senior utility Kamdyn Kvistad to tie the contest 1-1.
The Jaguars grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fifth as sophomore pitcher Tori McAnn walked a batter with the bases loaded. An errant wild pitch from McAnn cost the Bobcats another run as South Alabama went up 3-1.
The Bobcats answered at the top of the sixth from an RBI single from senior infielder Tara Oltmann. Oltmann advanced to third base on a wild pitch setting up sophomore infielder Sara Vanderford to hit a sac-fly out to right field for a 3-3 tie.
Both teams kept each other at bay for the rest of the regulation. At the top of the eighth, freshman outfielder Piper Randolph got into scoring position as she nabbed a single and stole second base. Vanderford stepped up to the plate with a chance to take the lead but lined out to left field leaving Randolph stranded.
At the bottom of the inning, junior infielder Kennedy Cronan grabbed a base hit. At the next at-bat, McAnn walked Kvistad, putting the Jaguars in scoring position. The Bobcats substituted McAnn for junior pitcher Brooke Blackwell, who played only 2.2 innings all season.
Blackwell subsequently walked a batter to load the bases with no outs. Sophomore outfielder Shelby Sloan came up to the box and hit a grounder out to second base, allowing Cronan to stroll in for the walk-off 4-3 victory.
With conference elimination, the Bobcats' season is not over as they hope to earn a birth in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Softball Selection Special will air at 8 p.m. on May 16 on ESPN2.