BENTONVILLE, Ark. (GAC) – Tournament MVP Autumn Humes pitched a complete game and drove in the go-ahead runs as Harding won the 2017 Great American Conference Softball Championships with a 9-2 victory against Southern Arkansas on Saturday from the Tiger Athletic Complex.
With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, the Lady Bisons (54-6) loaded the bases with two outs. Humes bounced a double over the head of SAU third baseman Faith Otts to bring home Alexus Lawellin and Courtney Derrick.
With the bases still loaded, Amanda Berdon got hit by a pitch to make the lead 5-2. Mackenzie Jones followed with an RBI single and Katie Carney walked to force in Kimmy Hendricks-Campbell. Lindsey Duncan drove home the final two runs of the frame with a single to center field. The Lady Bisons sent a total of 12 batters to the plate.
Humes returned to the circle and promptly retired the side in order. She improved to 30-1, one win shy of matching the GAC single-season record, set in 2012 by UAM All-American Kayla Jackson. She garnered the Tournament MVP after posting a 3-0 record and a microscopic 0.32 ERA. She became the second freshman to earn the MVP award, joining Southern Arkansas’ Shelby Miller, who took home the honor in 2014.
Jones and Lawellin joined Humes on the All-Tournament Team. Maddie Dow, Brooke Goad and Monica Islava represented SAU. Arkansas Tech’s Janie Knowles and Jalissa Gum, Southern Nazarene’s Katelyn Brown and Logan Sundbye, Ouachita’s Sarah Johnson and Arkansas-Monticello’s McKenzie Rice filled out the 12-player team.
Harding earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships and will compete in the tournament for the first time. Southern Arkansas entered the GAC Championships ranked fifth in the Central Region and should receive an at-large bid. The selection show airs on NCAA.com at 9 a.m. on Monday.