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Walk-off, Grand Slam among Highlights at Softball's Tournament of Champions

SB - Haily MacDonald (by Rob Garcia)

Haily MacDonald. Photo by Rob Garcia.

Playing seven games in three days in Turlock at Cal State Stanislaus’ Tournament of Champions, Academy of Art University softball saw a series of great moments while going 3–4 in the tournament.

Up against Western Oregon on Day 1, freshman Brenna Mitchell (Interior Architecture & Design) was lights out in a relief role, striking out six of the first 10 batters she faced to eventually take the Urban Knights into extra innings still tied 1–1.

SB - Taylor Thurman & Haily MacDonald (by Sammy Henderson)

Taylor Thurman and Haily MacDonald. Photo by Sammy Henderson.

Per tournament rules, the international tiebreaker was employed (starting each inning with a runner at second base) in the eighth. A sacrifice bunt gave WOU a prime scoring chance, but Mitchell induced two outs and the Academy proceeded to load the bases on a senior outfielder Haily MacDonald (Graphic Design) bunt single and a walk to Glover. The Wolves got one out on a force play at home only to watch the game go to the Urban Knights on an RBI single by West. The 2-1 final was in large part the product of two solid pitching efforts by multimedia communications major Alexa Peters (3.2 innings, one hit and one run allowed) and Mitchell (4.1 innings, one hit and no runs allowed, six strikeouts).

The second day, Mitchell worked through the first three Simon Fraser batters to start before the Academy offense gave her a 3–0 lead thanks to a run-scoring single by senior infielder Taylor Thurman (Fashion Merchandising) and a two-run single from freshman infielder Samantha Klune (Acting) in the bottom of the first. ART U would go on to put runners into scoring position in each of the game’s seven innings though it was not until the fourth that they plated more.

Following a leadoff double by graduate student catcher Nirana Singh (Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media), sophomore outfielder Hallie Curtis (Photography) offered an RBI single and MacDonald then scored after her third steal of the contest, coming in with junior outfielder Andrea Gill (Photography) on a two-run double by senior infielder Kamyle Glover (Fashion Merchandising).

The Urban Knights’ 6–0 lead became 7–0 in the fifth when MacDonald hit an infield single after another leadoff double by Singh. Shortly thereafter, MacDonald swiped both second and third to earn the program’s new single-game record. ART U would go on to win 7–2.

On the final day, the Urban Knights went right to work in the first inning against Chaminade and it started with MacDonald earning a walk then stealing her ninth base of the weekend. With her and Glover aboard, the hits began rolling in as sophomore outfielder Jessica West (Web Design + New Media) offered an RBI single, junior catcher Elise Oldham (Multimedia Communications) singled in two, Thurman tripled home Oldham and Klune capped the rally with an RBI single.

Though Chaminade threatened ART U’s 5–0 lead in the bottom of the first, Glover was able to exit the jam with a pair of outs to preserve the advantage. The Silverswords would load the bases once more in the second, but again the Academy pitching and defense combined to post another zero for its opponent.

In the fifth, three consecutive two-out singles came from Klune, Singh, and senior infielder Jasmine Dickenson (Photography) to set up a four-pitch walk to Curtis, bringing in the first run. One pitch later, MacDonald drilled one over the right field fence and soon embraced her team at home plate for an emotional grand slam that put ART U ahead 10–3.

“All I wanted to do was hit the ball hard somewhere to give my team the best chance to extend our lead,” said MacDonald. “Out of the box, I didn’t think it was going to go out. In all honesty, I didn’t realize the ball cleared the fence until I was almost at second base. Before every game my dad has a running joke with me. He always tells me, ‘Don’t hit a home run until I am there watching.’ He has told me this joke a lot this spring because he has not been able to be at as many games as he would like to be. Both my dad and mom were in attendance today so this was a really special moment for me to share with them and my team.”

In the sixth, the Academy used Thurman’s second triple of the day (the third and fourth of her career) to bring in two more runs and a Klune RBI groundout for a 12–3 margin. Chaminade was given one chance to shorten the lead under eight runs in the sixth, but Glover and the defense finished things off to assure ART U one more game in the Tournament of Champions.