ST. GEORGE, UTAH — A grand slam home run by Tega Murphy in the top of the fourth inning carried No. 11 seed Lake Land, Illinois, to a 6-5 upset over No. 6 seed Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Wednesday in the opening round of the Division I National junior College Athletic Association National Softball Tournament.
The Lady Norse carried a 42-9 season record into Thursday evening’s elimination contest against 14th seed Indian Hills, Iowa.
Indian Hills sustained a 10-2 loss in Wednesday’s first round to No. 3 seed Florida SouthWestern .
“We’ve got to get back up today and fight on,” Lady Norse head coach Eric Iverson said. “Indian Hills is another big challenge we need to be ready for.”
Lake Land, located in Mattoon, Illinois, advanced to the winner’s bracket quarterfinals with a 55-12 season record.
Other first round scores from Wednesday included No. 5 seed Central Arizona 9, No. 12 seed Wallace State, Alabama 6; No. 4 seed Chipola, Florida 5, No. 13 seed North Central Texas 3; No. 5 seed Howard, Texas 12, No. 8 seed Tyler, Texas 6; No. 1 seed Butler, Kansas 9, No. 16 seed Snead State, Alabama 1 (five innings); No. 5 seed San Jacinto (South) Texas 5, No. 10 seed Chattanooga Tennessee State 4, and No. 2 seed Salt Lake, Utah 11, No. 15 seed Georgia Military 3 (six innings).
Second round games for Thursday included Butler (54-1) versus Howard (46-13); Central Arizona (51-9) against Chipola (57-7); San Jacinto South (42-19) versus Salt Lake (50-6) and NEO against Florida Southwestern.
The consolation first round games on Thursday includes Georgia Military (46-16) facing Chattanooga (44-12); Snead State (30-40) against Tyler (50-17) and Wallace, Alabama (38-17) versus North Central Texas (41-25).
“This was the type of game you expect with them,” Lady Norse head coach Eric Iverson said. “Two really competitive teams that play hard.”
During the 2016 National Tournament in the first round, NEO defeated Lake Land by an 8-7 margin.
After two scoreless innings, Lake Land broke the tie with a solo home run by left fielder Addison Baele (6) off NEO starter Olivia Prather (22-4).
NEO responded in the bottom of the third inning with a run to create a 1-1 tie.
Veteran shortstop Libby Morris singled to start NEO’s rally. Olivia Prather followed with her fourth double of the season as Morris came all the way around to score the tying run.
Baele started the top of the fourth inning with a walk. Consecutive singles by Madison Boone and Samantha Valentine filled the bases for the Lakers.
After Haylee Short was hit by a pitch to score Baele, Murphy connected for her 10th homer of the year to produce a 6-1 Lake Land advantage.
Lady Norse sophomore Rylee Willmon made her first appearance of the post-season in the circle to work 1.1 innings of relief. She recorded one strikeout against four batters.
A double by designated hitter Jordan Wharton and an infield single by catcher Hailey Seago ignited a four-run Lady Norse rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Peyton Tellez reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Pinch hitter Madison Barnes drilled a double to right-center scoring both Wharton and Seago.
Both Tellez and Barnes scored as Shelby Prather lined a single to center field creating a 6-5 deficit.
“Both teams had their share of success at the plate and both made a couple mistakes,” Iverson said. “This game came down to one big inning for them.”
Lakers ace Emily Oestreich (32-3) got the final out in the sixth inning and retired the Lady Norse in order in the seventh for a complete game. She allowed 10 hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Olivia Prather and Seago each produced two of the Lady Norse 10 hits. Five of NEOs safeties — Olivia Prather, Seago, Barnes, Wharton and Lena Sanders —were doubles.
Home runs by Murphy and Baele along with a double by Haylee Short accounted for three of the seven Lake Land hits.