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Softball Season Ends with Loss to Piedmont in USA South Tournament

Nina Grauley/ Sports Information
Nina Grauley/ Sports Information

LAGRANGE, Ga. -- The Covenant softball team cut a four-run deficit to just one in the late innings, but a seven-run seventh inning propelled Piedmont to an 11-3 win over the Lady Scots at the USA South Tournament on Saturday morning at the Shuford Softball Complex.

Covenant (23-20) ends the year with a program record 23 wins. It also marked the first time in program history that Covenant has recorded back-to-back winning seasons.

Piedmont (23-16) scored two runs on both the first and second innings to go ahead 4-0. The score remained that way until the fifth inning.

In that fifth inning, Shade Epes led off with a single and Faith Manning followed with a walk. With two outs and runners at first and second, Carlin Labuzan hit a grounder down the third base line that scooted under the legs of Piedmont's Becka Ross and into left field allowing Manning to score. Covenant would strand two runners in scoring position, but still cut the deficit to 4-1.

In the sixth inning, Shelby Ralston singled with one out and an error on Kathryn Andrews' fielder's choice put runners at first and third for Covenant. Two batters later, Manning produced a two-run single to center field as Jada Allmon and Ralston scored to make it 4-3. Manning was able to move to third on an error, but would be left there.

However, Piedmont had an answer in the seventh as the Lions scored seven runs on seven hits to blow the game and take an 11-3 lead. Mariann Kennison and Kaylee White each had two-run hits during the frame for Piedmont as it sent 11 batters to the plate.

Covenant finished with five hits in the game, two of which came from Madyson Gibbins who went 2-for-4. Ralston, Epes, and Mannins had one apiece. Tyler Epes (4-8) made the start and got the loss in the circle. Sarah Huskey threw 2.1 scoreless innings in relief before Joni Johnson came on to get out of a jam in the fifth inning.

Melissa Eckman (15-7) tossed her 19th complete-game of the year for Piedmont and she struck out three and allowed one earned run on five hits. Josie Coker and Jessica Bagwell had three hits each for Piedmont, while Kennison had three RBIs. Piedmont out-hit Covenant 16-5.

The game ended the collegiate careers of Kathryn Andrews, Shade Epes, Tyler Epes, Cris Gant, Jami Johnson, Joni Johnson, and Shannon Schmitt. The seven players were key throughout their careers and helped the Lady Scots to 45 wins over the last two seasons.

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