The Shorter softball team ran into an obstacle while pursuing its third straight Southern States Athletic Conference tournament championship
The obstacle? Lee University’s Johana Gomez.
The 2010 SSAC Player of the Year hit two home runs and turned in a stellar pitching performance to send the No. 2-ranked Lady Flames to a 10-3 victory over Shorter in Saturday’s conference championship game.
The win gave Lee its first SSAC championship since 2007.
Shorter will now wait to see if its No. 10 ranking will warrant an at-large bid into the NAIA National tourney.
Shorter, which beat Lee 6-2 in last year’s SSAC championship game, spotted the Lady Flames five runs after three innings in Saturday’s game, and couldn’t make up the difference.
Gomez was a major reason why, as she surrendered just two hits to the Lady Hawks.
Shorter made a push with three runs in the top of the fourth to close to within 5-3, but could get no closer.
Senior Elisabeth Barber, playing in her final SSAC Tournament, hit a two-run single. She finished 1-for-3 and Dandi Ammons had Shorter’s other hit.
Hawks baseball team falls in SSAC tourney
Top-seeded Lee University rolled to a 17-5 victory over No. 6-seed Shorter in an elimination game in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament in Columbus.
The No. 4-ranked Flames improved to 44-11, and advanced to today’s semifinals.
Shorter, which was making its first appearance in the SSAC tournament since 2007, bows out with a 24-32 overall record.
Lee broke open a 1-1 game with three runs in the second and stayed in front from there.
Shorter’s Matt Johnson and Clint Harkins both finished 3-for-5 with an RBI.
Seth Walker and Trey Burstrom added RBI singles in the third to put Lee ahead 6-1 and the Flames never looked back. After falling in a 15 inning affair to No. 4-seed Brewton-Parker College on Friday night that wiped out several of its top pitchers, Lee rode the back of Matthew Gilson, who tossed a complete game in which he scattered 10 hits and struck out 11 Hawks.
Shorter crawled to within 7-2 on a Matt Johnson RBI single in the top of the fifth and, although it appeared to be on the verge of making a push on several occasions, simply could not capitalize on the opportunities.
Shorter placed runners on first and third with two out in the fifth, but Gilson recorded a strike out to end the threat.
The Hawks put a run across in the top of the seventh and had runners on first and second with no outs in the frame, but Gilson forced Johnson to ground into a double play and Shannon Houston rolled out to second to conclude the inning.
Meanwhile, the Flames found their groove at the dish and Rodriguez essentially dashed Shorter’s hopes with one swing in the sixth.
After Lee had worked the bases loaded with two outs, Rodriguez belted a bases-clearing double to right center, putting the Flames up 11-2. Rodriguez closed out his day going 3-for-5 with four RBI and one run scored.
The Hawks, who pounded out 10 hits themselves, got several strong offensive performances in the loss.
Shorter’s Matt Johnson and Clint Harkins both went 3-for-5 with an RBI.