WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The Finlandia softball team made history Saturday, claiming a conference tournament championship and with it, a first NCAA Tournament berth in any sport.
The Lions got a one-hitter from pitcher Miranda Brewer and blanked Huntingdon College 5-0 in the championship game of the Great South Athletic Conference Tournament.
After Brewer gave up an infield single to the leadoff hitter, the Lions got out of the inning and onto the board immediately. Kristen Rose and Alexis Lawley delivered RBI singles for a 2-0 lead.
Huntingdon sacrificed leadoff walks to third base in the fourth and fifth innings but scored on neither. The Lions slammed the door shut with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Two runs came in when Rose's two-out grounder was mishandled at shortstop and Lawley followed with an RBI single for a 5-0 lead.
Huntingdon failed to get a baserunner the rest of the way and the game ended on a pop-up to Paige Yoho at first base for an automatic bid in the NCAAs. The Lions will find out their postseason assignment May 6.
Kari Jewett had three hits and scored twice for the winners, but the star of the day was Brewer, who allowed just the leadoff single and three walks. She struck out five.
The Lions earned their spot in the title game with an earlier 8-6 win over Huntingdon.
The Alabama-based Hawks scored four runs in the first two innings, but the Lions responded with five in the top of the third. Yoho and Rose hit RBI singles before Lawler drove in two runs with a double, then scored on Adrianna Osuna's double.
Huntingdon jumped in front again with two in the third, but the Lions took over down the stretch.
Three straight two-out hits in the sixth led to the tying run on Jewett's RBI single, with the lead run thrown out at the plate.
In the seventh, the Lions got RBI singles from Osuna and Alyson Herman for the lead.
Herman was the winning pitcher, allowing five earned runs on nine hits. She struck out four and walked one.
Offensively, MJ Huffman, Monica Salazar, Rose and Osuna had two hits apiece.
Lawley was named tournament MVP.