OXFORD, Ala. --- Facing a seven run deficit Tennessee State stormed back to force extra innings before claiming a victory over Samford in the final game of the Leon Smith Classic at Choccolocco Park. The Tigers scored seven runs over the final three innings after trailing 9-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The comeback allowed TSU to claim a 10-9 victory in the ninth inning and finish the weekend at 3-2, while improving to 7-15 on the season.
Lauren Powell earned her third win in as many days by pitching the final three innings, holding the Bulldogs scoreless. Powell scattered a hit and two walks while striking out three as she improved to 4-5 on the year.
In the bottom of the ninth, Emma Colegrove used a sacrifice bunt to move Erica O’Kane to third base. Two batters later, Selena Crafton lined a two-out shot towards short that elevated high enough to go off the tip of the glove of the Bulldogs leaping shortstop allowing O’Kane to score.
Crafton finished the day 4-for-6 with two runs batted in and a stolen base. On the weekend, the freshman third baseman batted .500, collecting 19 hits in 20 at bats.
Kim Trice, Whitney Ennis and Abi Stephens all finished with two hits in the contest to contribute to the Tigers 14 hit attack. Courtney Gearlds, Danica Gleason, Sarah Snell and O’Kane earned hits to help TSU reach its highest hot total of the season.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the second inning as Ennis lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield allowing Kierra Ware to score for the first run of the game. Stephens followed with a single to right chasing home Patton Akers. The throw from the Samford outfielder beat Akers to the plate, but the freshman right fielder was able to avoid the tag and slap home plate for the early 2-0 lead.
The Bulldogs wasted no time responding as they scored four runs in each the third and fourth innings. Samford added another run in the top of the fifth to take the 9-2 advantage.
The Tigers started their way back into the game as Trice drove a ball over the fence in left center for a three-run shot, cutting the deficit to 9-5.
Reliever Amanda Cabrera pitched a perfect sixth inning giving the offense an opportunity to bet closer to the Bulldogs. In the bottom of the frame, Stephens hammered a ball off the fence down the leftfield line to bring home Maddison Clark who pinch ran for O’Kane after a leadoff walk.
Three batters later, Gleason reached on a dropped fly ball in centerfield which brought home pinch runner Randi Marshall, cutting the Samford lead to 9-7.
Powell entered in the seventh and escaped a Samford threat, setting the stage for the Tigers comeback. TSU loaded the bases as Stephens reached on a Bulldog fielding error after an O’Kane walk and an Ennis single. Crafton and Gearlds delivered back-to-back RBI singles to even the score at 9-9. The Tigers completed the comeback two innings later, dropping Samford to 7-17 on the year.
In the fifth inning, Gearlds was hit by a pitch for the fifth time this season and the 34th time in her career. The total brings Gearlds tied for the top spot on the TSU career list with Lindsey Burgess (2013-16).
TSU concludes its 12 game road trip on Wednesday, Mar. 15 with a double header at Northern Kentucky. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. in Highland Heights, Ky.