By Matt Green
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Shorter University scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally from a two-run deficit and upset host and No. 20-ranked Armstrong Atlantic 5-2 in the Lady Hawks' first game of the Hampton Inn North Pirate Spring Invitational hosted by Armstrong Atlantic.
Christina Ezell scattered eight hits and fanned six while walking just one in a complete game effort and Kayla Cooper hit a go-ahead, three-run homer during the decisive seventh for the Lady Hawks (1-0), who pinned the first loss of the season on a ranked Armstrong Atlantic (6-1) club. The Pirates had opened the season with six straight wins before falling to Shorter.
The Lady Hawks spotted Armstrong a run each in the third and fourth innings before mounting their comeback. The Pirates got an RBI single from Kat Vogler in the third for the first run of the game then went up 2-0 on an RBI single from Ashley Schwab in the fourth. Ezell settled down from that point on, however, holding the Pirates to just three hits the rest of the way.
While Ezell took care of things in the circle, Shorter's offense finally got going with three outs to go.
Whitney Hood singled to lead off the seventh, advanced to third on a wild pitch and Sarah Corn's single, then scored on Ezell's sacrifice fly to trim Shorter's deficit to 2-1. Felicia Morris followed with a base hit to put two on for Cooper, who belted her first homer as a Lady Hawk and gave Shorter a 4-2 lead.
Amanda Dailey tacked on an RBI double that plated Jackie Castaneda several batters later and gave Shorter some cushion at 5-2, and Ezell sealed the win in the bottom half of the frame by forcing a pop up, fielder's choice and notching her sixth and final strikeout to end the game.
Shorter outhit Armstrong 9-8 in the win. The victory was Shorter's first as an NCAA program and came against a team that began the year ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 25 after going 45-11 in 2012 and finishing the year ranked No. 17 in the country.
Ezell went 2-for-2 at the plate while Cooper finished 1-for-3 with the three RBI. Shorter unleashed an aggressive base running approach, as Morris, Kellee Stone and Kendall Johnson each swiped bases for the Lady Hawks in the win.
Shorter continued its first day at the Hampton Inn North Pirate Spring Invitational against Mars Hill later in the afternoon. A recap of the game against Mars Hill will follow later today.