Grayson softball finishes as JUCO national runner-up

Herald Democrat

YUMA, Ariz. — The Grayson College Lady Vikings finished the best season in program history as the second-best team in the country after Florida SouthWestern scored all its runs in the final two innings to capture the National Junior College Athletic Association championship with a 5-1 victory over Grayson at Pacific Avenue Athletic Complex.

The fourth-seeded Lady Vikings (49-7) needed to win twice if they were going to take the crown and had a 1-0 lead after five innings but third-seeded Florida SouthWestern (49-4) tied the game in the top of the sixth and then took the lead for good with a four-run seventh to avoid a winner-take-all final contest.

Grayson had never been to the World Series and showed it was a title-contender after starting 2-0 and then winning three straight elimination games to reach the championship round.

Dylann Kaderka was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Pitcher while outfielders JT Smith and Hailey Vess and catcher Cheyenne Stark were named to the all-tournament team.

The Lady Vikings went in front with their only run in the bottom of the third. Zoe Lott singled to start the inning, Sage Harlow reached on a one-out error and Vess had a two-out RBI single to center.

Grayson had two runners on in the second, fourth and fifth innings but was unable to add to its lead.

Florida SouthWestern tied the game on Taylor Jensen’s one-out home run in the top of the sixth.

Five of the first six Buccaneers reached to open the seventh and produce the deciding sequence.

Feline Poot was hit by a pitch, Owen Bowers singled and a sacrificed moved them over. Pinch-hitter Chelsea Brown had a two-run double to put Florida SouthWestern in front.

An error and a single loaded the bases but Natavia Ellis had a two-run single with two outs to make the comeback that much tougher for Grayson in the bottom of the seventh, where the Lady Vikings went in order to end the game.