GULF SHORES, Ala. ----- The Auburn University at Montgomery continued its historic season and advanced to bracket play of the NAIA Softball National Championship, as it defeated William Penn, 7-2, to cap a perfect 3-0 record in Pool H play at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
With the win, the Warhawks improved to 41-18 on the season and will now take on the winner of Pool A on Monday at 10 a.m. AUM's opponent will be either top-ranked Concordia (Calif.) or Southern States Athletic Conference foe Brenau. The two squads play Saturday at 6 p.m.
In the outing against the Statesmen (46-19), Brandi Richards continued her dominance in the circle, recording 12 of her 15outs in her five innings of work via strikeout. As a team, the Warhawks pounded out 15 hits, a mark which was tied for their second most on the season.
Richards tossed the opening five frames of the game, allowing just two hits and her first run of the tournament on a solo home run by Brianne Rowley in the first inning. Richards, who earned her 15th win of the season in the outing, did not walk a batter. Cassie Daniels threw the final two innings, scattering two hits and striking out three.
Kacie Ryal paced the offense with a career-best four hits, finishing 4-for-4 with a RBI. Danielle Kirkpatrick drove in three runs, including two in the top of the first inning to give AUM the lead for good. Jyssica Pepper and Laci Driggers each finished with three hits, while Richards and Sarah Suggs added two apiece. Suggs also walked twice.
The Warhawks took the lead in the top of the first inning, putting together three hits to spark the rally. Pepper led off the game with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by Driggers. Richards followed with a single, before a walk to Suggs loaded the bases. Kirkpatrick responded with a two-run single to right field to put AUM on the board.
After Rowley cut the deficit in half, the Warhawks added a run in the third on RBI single by Ryal, before erupting for three runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach. Richards drove in a run with a double and Suggs plated a run to key the rally. Kirkpatrick capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
AUM concluded its scoring when Driggers laced a run-scoring double in the fifth inning.
Rowley finished with two hits for the Statesmen, scoring both runs and driving in one. Amber Daly took the loss, falling to 10-3 on the season, after allowing six runs in four innings.