ST. GEORGE, UTAH – Wallace State's second-seeded softball team made a rare early exit at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I tournament on Thursday night, falling to Temple (Texas) College 9-2 in an elimination game at the Canyons Complex.
Temple College scored the game's first five runs and added four insurance runs in the seventh to end Wallace State's season.
The Lady Lions close the season with a 62-14 record after entering the national tournament seeking their second national title in three seasons and third overall under coach Jayne Clem. Until Thursday, Wallace State had finished no worse than third in the nation during its last five trips to the national tournament.
Temple College's Paige Williams broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth Thursday, drilling a wind-aided home run to left field for a 2-0 lead. Williams, who also tossed a complete game, hit the two-run shot through a howling wind and a steady rain.
The game was suspended seconds after Williams' home run, and the teams sat through a pair of rain delays totaling a little more than an hour.
Once play was resumed for a second time, the seventh-seeded Leopards extended their lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth with three more runs. Williams had an RBI single and Lexi Smith followed with a two-run single.
Wallace State tallied its first run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by sophomore Sarah Jordan, trimming the Lady Lions' deficit to 5-1.
Temple put the game out of reach in the seventh, adding four insurance runs off Wallace State sophomore starter Rachel Ragland.
Brooke Kinsey had a run-scoring single for Wallace State in the seventh.
Sam Riley finished 2 for 3 for Wallace State, collecting her second consecutive multi-hit game in the tournament. Kinsey, Jordan, Mackenzie Hill, Molli Garcia and Katie Parr had a single apiece for Wallace State.
Abigail Schade and Adelae Vayas each finished with three hits for Temple, while Smith was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Williams 1 for 2 with three RBIs.
Williams went the distance for the Leopards, scattering two runs – one earned – on seven hits. She struck out six and walked five.
Wallace State was forced into the elimination bracket after losing to Wabash Valley (Ill.) College 2-1 on Wednesday.
Fellow ACCC member Shelton State also was eliminated after falling to Jefferson College (MO) 5-3.