Softball: Drovers Clinch Championship Game With Clifton’s Walk-off

The USAO Drovers (#4) beat the Columbia College Cougars (#10) 7-6, in a 9 inning battle. This game took over 24 hours to play, as it consist of 3 different delays due to the rain. Before the game was delayed yesterday the Drovers would strike first in the bottom of the 2nd inning. In that inning the Drovers would get a sacrifice fly from Emily Cerny that scored Randa Hatter and Karlie Velasco would tack on a RBI single to put the Drovers up 2-0. The Cougars would respond with a 2 run home run by Molly Carter to tie the game at 2. After the rain delay, the game would kick back up today and again the Drovers would have a big inning. It begin in the bottom of the 6th inning as we would see a RBI double by Shania Beck, a Caitlin Hall Sacrifice fly, a Kingsley RBI Double and she would later score on an error by the Cougars, this would make the score 6-2. In the top of the 7th, the Cougars would get a RBI double by Dakota Newton and would add-on another RBI double by Alexabdra Linck. After this inning the score would be locked at 6 runs each. Then in the bottom of the 9th, one of the hottest hitter in the NAIA Chloe Clifton hit a walk-off double, that would score Dakota Clouse, the Drovers would go onto win 7-6.

With this win, the Drovers move to 56-5 and are now just one win away from the NAIA national championship. The Drovers are set to play again Thursday, May 31 at 10 a.m. With this loss, the Cougars fall to 36-15, and will play the winner of Oklahoma City/Southern Oregon at 1 a.m.

Along with the walk-off hit there was another key play in this game. In the top of the 6th, the Drovers outfielder Alyson Clemence made a nice running catch on ball that was traveling toward the left field corner. Before the play was made, there was a runner on second with 2 outs in the inning and the score was deadlocked at 2.

The Drovers offense would collect just 5 hits, as they would be led by Chloe Clifton. She would go 1-4 with a walk-off RBI double. Shania Beck went 1-2 with a double. Karlie Velasco went 1-2 with a single, and would also tack on a sacrifice bunt. Keely Kingsley would finish going 1-4 with a double. Emily Cerny went 1-1 with single.

The Drovers would send FR. Emily Cerny the mound, as she would grind out 9 innings and she would allow 4 earned runs on 8 hits. Cerny would finish her afternoon with 8 impressive strikeout. With this win Cerny now moves to 32-4 on her brilliant Freshman season.

The Cougars would put together 8 hits of their own led by Molly Carter. She would go 2-4 with a double and a home run. Rachel Sullivan went 2-5 with 2 singles. Natalie Dummit would go 1-2 with a single. Karli Leeper went 1-4 with a single. Dakota Newton went 1-4 with a double. Alexandra Linck went 1-4 with a double.

The Cougars sent Lexi Dickerson to the mound, where she would throw 5 innings and would allow 2 earned runs on 3 hits. She would strikeout 2 on the night. After the loss, Dickerson falls to 15-4 on the season. The only relief pitcher was Kaitlyn Nottelmann, as she would throw 3.1 inning and would allow 3 earned runs on 2 hits.

Outfielder Alyson Clemence said “The pressure was on that game for both teams. I knew to keep the pressure off of us was to catch the ball. We’ve been working all year since August to get where we are at and we plan to take it home.”

Infielder Caitlin Hall said “I’m so proud of the fight that this team has had all year long. Throughout the year, this team has thrived under pressure! I am so grateful for the opportunity to finish my career playing for a national championship. I can’t wait to bring home the trophy with this team!”

Outfielder Karlie Velasco said “We’ve been working to get to this point from day one. I knew I needed to keep focused and locked in till the last pitch.”

Head Coach Jadyn Wallis said ”My Drovers wore their truss colors today. Battling back and never giving up. This team had grown to be the top team in the country and it’s came with blood sweat and tears. But tomorrow all of our dreams will come true”

Assistant Coach Kayla Adams said “This was an epic battle. These girls have fought day in and day out, everything they have worked for is showing and paying off. They are trusting the process they have gone through all year to get where they are today. So proud and ready for tomorrow.”

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