Anderson, Ind. – The Transylvania softball team advanced into the Sunday championship game of the 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon with a 4-3 victory over the Franklin College Grizzlies Saturday afternoon at Raven Field.
Sophomore infielder Meg Liter's two-run home run in the top of the third inning provided the Pioneers with the go-ahead runs that vaulted Transylvania into Sunday's 1:00 championship game against either Franklin or the Defiance College Yellow Jackets.
After taking care of business Friday afternoon in the tournament opening game against No. 3 seed Defiance, the Pioneers made the most of their trek through the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament on Saturday against No. 4 seed Franklin.
Each team registered two runs in the first inning; as the designated visiting team on Saturday, the Pioneers used a pair of singles from sophomore infielder Shelby Gambrell and senior infielder Shelby Bailey to get on base. Gambrell and Bailey stole bases and Gambrell reached home on a throwing error for a 1-0 lead. Freshman designated player Sydney Motell drove in Bailey to extend Transylvania's lead to 2-0.
Franklin tied the game suddenly in the bottom of the first inning as the Grizzlies hit back-to-back home runs against junior starting pitcher Renae Morton to tie the game at 2-2.
But Morton recovered to halt the Grizzlies from scoring through the next four innings while the Pioneers went back on top in the third. After sophomore outfielder Shelbi Poehlein hit a one-out double, Liter gave the Pioneers the boost they needed when she smacked a two-run home run to push the Pioneers ahead, 4-2.
Franklin made a late charge in the sixth inning, taking advantage of a two-out error to score on an RBI single from Megan Lalioff, cutting Transylvania's lead to 4-3. Lalioff made it all the way to third base to represent the tying run from 90 feet away, but Morton induced the next batter into a pop fly and the Pioneers escaped the inning with the lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Franklin tried to complete the game-tying rally, but Morton induced a groundout from Monica Collins to end the game as Transylvania stayed undefeated in conference tournament play at 2-0.
Morton collected her 16th win of the season as she wrapped up her second complete-game win in two days and added four strikeouts. Liter had two RBIs for the Pioneers while Motell and Poehlein each tallied two hits.
The Pioneers now have two chances to clinch the HCAC Tournament title on Sunday. They face the winner of the Sunday morning loser's bracket game between Franklin and Defiance at approximately 1:00 p.m. If the Pioneers cannot win the 1:00 p.m. championship game, they will immediately play a 3:00 p.m. if necessary game against that same opponent.
Transylvania is seeking its first HCAC Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament berth since the 2010 season.
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