Huntingdon softball wins GSAC, advances to NCAA Regional for first time

Huntingdon softball wins GSAC, advances to NCAA Regional for first time

MARYVILLE, Tenn. – The Huntingdon softball team had one goal entering this weekend's Great South Athletic Conference tournament. A year after losing two games on the final day of the tournament and finishing as the runner-up, the Lady Hawks were determined to finish the job this season.

Huntingdon knocked off Maryville 7-2 on Sunday to claim its first GSAC tournament title since 2006.

"This is huge. It's what we've worked for all year," Huntingdon head coach Gynger Williams said. "The girls have been dedicated to this since Day 1 and they weren't going to let anything stop them. They said they were going to do it and today we accomplished the goal."

With the conference title, the Lady Hawks (28-13) advance to their first NCAA Division III Regional. The Lady Hawks will await the tournament selection announcement on May 7 to find out where they will play.

"This is a great day to be a Hawk," senior catcher Kristi Taylor said. "It's exciting to accomplish our goal. This was a complete effort and I'm proud of ever player. Now, we want to get ready for the regional tournament."

Huntingdon senior and two-time GSAC Pitcher of the Year Bree Giordana was named MVP of the tournament.

"Today is what we've been working for all year," Giordana said. "We achieved our goal today and winning it with this group of girls just makes it more special.

"Now, to have the opportunity to play in a regional is awesome. We need to keep doing what we've been doing, support one another and keep it going. We want to prove ourselves and show what we can do."

Giordana (17-7) threw a three-hitter, struck out six, walked three and allowed one earned run in seven innings against Maryville. For the tournament, Giordana was 3-0 with 24 strikeouts, 11 hits, six walks and two earned runs in 21 innings.

"Bree's performance on the mound has been vital to our success," Taylor said. "She keeps her composure and helps hold the team together. She did a great job this weekend and I'm proud of her. She earned the MVP title."

In the GSAC championship, tied 2-2 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Huntingdon blew the game open with five runs.

Lauren Welch doubled to score Aleah Payne and then scored on a Hayley Praytor single to make it a 4-2 game. An Angela Barkman single scored Jade Reynolds before Gabby Alcantar closed out the scoring with a two-run single to score Barkman and Giordana.

The Lady Hawks scored their first two runs of the game in the third inning as a Jenna Rimensnyder double scored Ashley Johnson and Barkman.

Barkman and Johnson each had two hits and were the only Lady Hawks with multiple hits.