The Grand Canyon University softball team returned to action at the Hillenbrand Invitational Friday in Tucson, Ariz., outlasting Tennessee State 7-6 in an exciting contest that spanned to nine innings. The Antelopes upset-bid in the second game of the day came up short, as they dropped a 13-5 decision to No. 4 Alabama. After splitting on the day, GCU moves its record to 3-5 on the season.
In game one, Tennessee State got on the board first, scoring three times in the top of the third inning. GCU began chipping away at the Tennessee State lead in the home half of the frame, getting a run when Kayla Henry crossed the plate. The 'Lopes picked up another run in the bottom of the fourth on a Nicole Newbury single, which scored Jenna Coates.
Grand Canyon picked up three more runs in the fifth and held a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh. Tennessee State was able to muster two runs in the frame, tying the contest at five.
The score remained the same until the ninth when the Tigers pushed across a run in their half of the inning, regaining the lead, 6-5. The 'Lopes were able to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, when Henry scored her third run of the game. After singling earlier in the inning, Haley Walker crossed the plate for the game-winning run.
Kailey Regester picked up the win in the circle, pitching a total of seven innings and striking out four. The sophomore, who is now 2-0 on the season, started the game and then re-entered in the eighth after hurling the first six innings.
Camree Wartman, Kelsey Barak, Newbury, and Walker all tallied a pair of hits.
"I was really happy with the execution of our bunts against Tennessee State and we did a much better job after struggling with that last week," said head coach Ann Pierson. "Our speed was putting some pressure on their defense and when you put the ball in play, good things will happen."
In GCU's afternoon affair, Alabama used a grand slam to jump out to an early 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning. GCU stormed back in the bottom half of the first, using a Newbury bases-loaded double to push across two runs and make the score 5-2.
Claire Zampini, who finished the contest with two hits, crossed the plate in the bottom of the second to decrease the deficit to 5-3. The 'Lopes weren't done, as freshman Taylor Nowlin picked up a memorable first collegiate hit, smashing a two-run home run over the left field fence to knot the game at five in the bottom of the third.
Nowlin, who also pitched all seven innings, finished the game with a pair of hits. Newbury and Barak picked up their second multi-hit game of the day, both going 2-for-4 against the Crimson Tide.
"I was very pleased with the game and the way we battled all day and I couldn't be more proud of the girls," concluded Pierson. "We have two tough games again tomorrow and we will be ready to get back to work."
The 'Lopes will continue action at the Hillenbrand Invitational tomorrow, as they will take on New Mexico at 9 a.m. and Tennessee State for the second consecutive day at 11 a.m. Fans can follow all of the action in Tucson, as a link for live stats and live video will be available at www.gculopes.com.
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