With the series with Campbell tied at a game apiece and the Eagles trailing, 9-1, entering the bottom of the sixth Sunday morning, it appeared that the visiting Camels would leave Rock Hill with a series win. Winthrop scored nine runs over its final three at-bats, completing a frenetic, 10-9 victory that catapulted the Eagles to within a game of first place.
Spencer Yankle delivered the decisive blow for the Eagles, smacking a single to left that plated Drake Smith and Brandon Fite to cap the bottom of the eighth and finish the comeback. Yankle joined Hunter Lipscomb, Grant English, Matthew Mulkey, and Jake Sullivan on the list of Eagles with two or more hits. Braxton Foley and Colten Rendon held the Camels at bay over the final 3.2 innings, surrendering just two hits.
Rendon also tallied the save in Friday’s 5-4, series-opening victory over the Camels, tossing the final 1.1 innings to put away the visitors. The Big South Conference recognized Rendon as its Reliver of the Week for his performance.
The Eagles finish the regular season on the road, with a Tuesday night contest at UNC Greensboro taking place before the final three-game set at USC Upstate Thursday-Saturday. Winthrop will then head to the Big South tournament next Tuesday-Saturday at Segra Stadium in Fayetteville, N.C.
Winthrop softball forces winner-take-all for title
Winthrop softball last qualified as the fourth seed for the Big South tournament in 2002, a year in which it played for a league title. The Eagles played for a conference title that year, falling to Liberty. 17 years later, the Eagles again parlayed the fourth seed into an appearance in the final.
Winthrop (30-25) knocked off Charleston Southern in the opening game of the tournament, followed by a loss to Longwood that sent the Eagles into the elimination bracket. Once in that bracket, the Eagles began their run to the title game.
Sabrina Shroades slapped a well-placed infield single between first and second in the bottom of the 10th inning of Friday’s first elimination game against Radford, scoring Ashley Westbrooks to complete a 4-3 victory over sixth-seeded Radford. Kiley Majette tossed 4.2 two-hit innings of relief to claim the victory.
After USC Upstate succumbed to Longwood in a battle of unbeatens, the Eagles faced off with the Spartans Friday night for the right to play for a title. Fort Mill High grad Bella Roy stepped up in a big way for the Eagles, as the freshman outdueled Big South Pitcher of the Year Christina Biggerstaff in recording a complete-game, 2-1 victory. Westbrooks recorded the game-winning RBI, scoring Blake Wallert from second on an infield single.
The Eagles forced a winner-take-all game with Longwood Saturday morning, scoring four runs in the final two innings of the first game to claim a 4-3 decision. Morgan Lowers knocked a single to left, scoring pinch-runners Jill Derrick and Kamryn Culp in the seventh to provide the winning margin. Winthrop led the second game, 2-0, going into the bottom of the sixth, before Longwood plated three in the top of the sixth and held on for a 3-2 victory to win the title.
Wallert, Lowers, and Majette all earned spots on the All-Tournament Team, based on their performances. Lowers had at least one hit in every game of the tournament.
Thorn wins long-jump crown to pace strong track and field finish
Winthrop long-jumper Colby Thorn won the first individual title of the Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championships, sealing the crown with a 7.45-meter leap Wednesday afternoon. Thorn capped eight trips to the podium for the Eagles over the three-day event.
Dalton Nichols (47.60 meters) took second in the discus event, joining Theo Kahler (15:07.26 in the 5K) and Jalen Hodges (2.05 meters in the men’s high jump) in the second spot for their individual events.
Tori Waddington (35 meters in the women’s javelin), Kahler (32:46.65 in the 10K), Evan Hailes (15.15 meters in the triple jump), and the men’s 4x400 relay (3:17.03) all took third in their respective disciplines.
Any individual Eagle qualifiers for the NCAA championships will be announced when seeding is revealed Tuesday. Preliminary round events will be contested May 23-25.