By: MacKenzie Tuttle, Digital Content Supervisor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. - Led by a nine run sixth inning, including a grand slam by Kylie Aiken, the Berry College softball team defeated Emory & Henry 15-3 on Saturday, advancing to the NCAA Regional Championship against Transylvania University.
The Vikings also set a new program record with their 40th victory on the year. Berry will look to take two off Transylvania beginning at noon.
Berry's bats came alive against the Wasps, stringing together 19 hits en route to the run-rule victory. Led by Kylie Aiken's grand slam in the top of the sixth, Berry rattled off nine runs and seven hits in the sixth alone.
Needing two wins on Championship Sunday is a situation that the Vikings are not unfamiliar with. In the last two seasons, Berry has been in the exact same spot but has never been able to make it out of the regional bracket.
The Vikings will, in all likelihood, face Transylvania's Renae Morton who threw 7.0 scoreless frames earlier today to send Berry to the losers bracket. Morton has been the workhorse for Transy all season, tossing 183.0 frames for a 1.57 ERA and 172 strikeouts. If the Vikings are able to force a game seven, Jordan Kramer would be the next pitcher on the staff tossing just 50.1 innings.
Coach Cori Thiermann will make the decision to send Kassie Howard or Marie Collop to the circle for Game 6. Howard has a perfect 0.00 ERA in the tournament and has fanned 13 batters which leads all pitchers. Collop has a 3.50 ERA in her 4.0 innings of work this tournament, striking out eight.
It will mark the third consecutive season that the Vikings are playing on Championship Sunday and the first in Transy's history.
- Four back-to-back singles by the Vikings to open up the game gave Berry an early 3-0 lead.
- Sarah Moore then doubled in the top of the second to bring home Aiken and move the score to 4-0.
- Emory & Henry answered, hitting back-to-back RBI doubles to cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the same inning.
- Brittany Ferrell then singled to score Meredith Wrye in the top of the fourth inning, increasing the Vikings' lead to 5-3.
- Kayla Sangrey brought home an additional Berry run, doubling to right center in the top of the fifth.
- The Vikings then strung together seven hits, including four doubles and the Aiken grand slam, to plate nine runs in the top of the sixth inning and ensure the 15-3 run-rule victory.
BERRY STATISTICAL STANDOUTS:
- Kylie Aiken: 3-for-5, 4 R, 4 RBIs, HR, 2B
- Kayla Sangrey: 3-for-4, 3 RBIs, R, 2 2B
- Moore: 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 2B
- Katlin Seger: 2-for-4, 3 RBIs, R, 2B
- Kenzie Fleming: 2-for-4, 2 RBIs, R
- Marie Collop: 2-for-5, R, RBI
- Elisabeth Federici: 2-for-3, R
- Kassie Howard: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 4 K, W (16-1)
EMORY & HENRY STATISTICAL STANDOUTS:
- Ragan Halsey: 1-for-1, 2 RBIs, R, 2B
- Jordan Chrisley: 1-for-2, R, RBI, 2B
- Riley Pudney: 1-for-3
- Caley Hodge: 1-for-3
- Tiffany Cole: 4.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 5 ER, L (14-6)
- The Vikings set a new program record with their 40th win
- Kassie Howard earned the win in the circle for Berry, tossing five innings while allowing only four hits and striking out four batters.
- Berry improves to 40-3 overall on the year.
- Emory & Henry finishes the season 35-15 overall.
- Berry will play for the regional championship title tomorrow at 12:00 p.m against Transylvania. The Vikings must defeat Transylvania twice to take home the championship.