Smith strikes out 11; Scots advance to Semifinals, 5-0

Smith strikes out 11; Scots advance to Semifinals, 5-0

Maryville College advanced to the USA South Semifinals on Friday, as they defeated Covenant College, 5-0, in the quarterfinal round.

The Scots did not allow Friday the 13th to hinder them, as it marks the first time MC has reached the Semifinals via the winners bracket. Maryville fell in the Semifinals last year to the eventual Tournament Champions Ferrum College, 3-2, after winning a pair of games to advance from the loser's bracket.

This season, they advance as the No. 1 seed and are only two wins away from their first USA South tournament crown.

"It's an awesome feeling," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "We came in and executed a game plan. Coming into this, we knew there wasn't going to be any blowouts. These are the best teams in the conference. We just executed. We had runners in scoring position, and people did their jobs, as far as bunting or getting bloop hits. Pinch running, Gabrielle [Rathmell] came in and did an excellent job, and then, Katlyn [Smith] did a great job on the mound. She came in and shut them out."

Smith, the reigning USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Year, doused Covenant with 11 strikeouts on the day. She pitched a complete game, as the Loganville, Ga. native gave up just two hits and walked five.

The win marks her 13th of the season, as the freshman hurler has recorded nearly half of MC's pitching wins.

"She's coming in as a freshman, and I'm not going to be naive that she is nervous," Kelley said. "She came in a little nervous, but she settled in and allowed her defense to work for her. She still got 11 strikeouts. When we needed her to get a strikeout, she got it done."

Friday afternoon's victory moves MC closer to their school record for wins. The Scots move to 27-11 on the year, tying the 2002 squad for the second-most victories in school history.

Maryville went 28-10 in 2003 to hold the record.

The Scots advance to face off with the Eastern Division No. 1 seeded Salem College. The Spirits defeated Averett University, 5-1, on Friday afternoon.

First pitch for that game is slated for noon tomorrow, Saturday, April 14. All games will be played at the Shuford Softball Complex in LaGrange, Ga.

Covenant College put a pair of runners in scoring position with a single and a walk for Erika Mast and Shelby Ralston. Shade Epes' sacrifice bunt moved them to second and third with two outs in the top of the second inning. Smith would strike the third out looking to avoid the threat, leaving the score at 0-0.

An error, a walk and a hit-by-pitch would load the bases for the Georgian Scots in the top of the third to threaten again. However, a 2-7-2 caught stealing at home and a strikeout swinging from Smith would end the threat once again.

Maryville held off Covenant in order to hang the first score on the board. Sarah Gordon found MC's first hit of the game with a soft-hit, spinning pop up to second. Morgan Brewer drew a walk, before Christina White's blooper over short would score pinch runner Rathmell. Essence Strambler laced a two-RBI double down the left-field line, as MC took a 3-0 lead on the two-out rally.

Maryville drew back-to-back walks, before gutsy base running would pay off. Rachel Taylor popped up just behind second base, as Brewer tagged on the play. It paid off, as Covenant threw it away. The errant throw left the field, as Brewer was awarded home on the play for a 4-0 MC lead.

The Scots would add a fifth run in the bottom of the sixth. Catcher Alexus Murry singled up the middle to lead off the inning, before taking second on a wild pitch. Christen Torres sacrificed Murray to third with a bunt, before Gordon earned an RBI with a sacrifice fly to left for a 5-0 score.

Maryville College was led by Gordon who went 1-for-1 with an RBI, as her pinch runner Rathmell scored a run. White was 1-for-2 with a run and an RBI, as Strambler went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI on a double. Murray was 1-for-3 with a run, as Brewer added a pair of runs behind two walks.

Covenant College (23-19) was led by Mast, as the sophomore centerfielder went 2-for-3. She had both of the Georgian Scots' two-hit attack.