NJCAA SOFTBALL: No. 1 seed silences GMC Bulldogs in six | Sports

Sometimes you can catch a No. 1 seed / defending national champions in a serious case of underrating.

Tuesday was not that day for Georgia Military College which opened play in the NJCAA Division I Softball Championships in Yuma, Arizona.

Florida Southwestern’s 6-foot shortstop Feline Poot of the Netherlands homered twice and Bucs pitcher Baylee Haggard won her 25th game of the 2022 season. They are among the defending champions and heads series, and they managed the No. 16 Bulldogs 8-0 in six innings.

Poot entered the tournament with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs this season for a team that went 49-5. Haggard was 24-2 prior to his departure and had a 1.23 ERA. She allowed five hits in six innings, walked no one and struck out five.

GMC, coming out of a GCAA Tournament championship as the fourth seed in its conference and 38-21 overall, picked the wrong time to have multiple base and field running errors, two each. Two of the hits for the Bulldogs belonged to leadoff hitter Lily Griffith.

It was Griffith who started GMC’s desert journey on the right foot by choosing the opposite path early in the first run. Makensey Sapp followed and fielded the softball harder than her teammate, but that’s where Poot landed an easy catch and pushed back first for a double play.

Jana Shellhorse started in the circle for GMC and faced Buccaneer baserunners in every inning but one. It didn’t start well, as she hit leadoff batter Laura Vigna on the elbow. With one out, Poot controlled home plate, foul-balling numerous times. Although she showed the bunt a few times, Poot pulled away on a 3-2 bid, and the result was a 2-0 FSW lead.

The bad run for GMC was the bottom of the third, and it was with Shellhorse retiring Poor for a big second with a Buc on base. But Florida Southwestern has a roster of 10 players with 22 or more RBIs this season. They didn’t need the help but got it in the form of back-to-back errors from Sapp at second base. With a 3-0 lead, McKenzie Whittenberg dropped an RBI single down the right.

The Bucs downed two bunt singles late in the fourth, and Shenita Tucker’s hit made it 5-0. Tucker got a second RBI on a sacrifice fly after Vigna doubled up late in the sixth. At 7-0, Poot sent the first pitch she saw over the left field fence.

Florida Southwestern converted a second double play by catching the Bulldogs wide from base to end the fourth inning. Callie Fairclotch, the GCAA MVP based on offensive and defensive work, dipped inches from the grass to finish fourth in FSW.

GMC will be looking to stave off elimination today at 1:00 p.m. against Southern Idaho.

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