ST. GEORGE, UTAH. – Wallace State softball's quest for a third national title came to an end Thursday night after a pair of losses at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I national championship at the Canyons Complex in Utah.
After advancing to the winner's bracket with a thrilling victory late Wednesday night, Wallace State, seeded 11th, lost to third-seeded and defending national champion Chipola (Fla.) College 12-2 in five innings in Thursday's opener and was later eliminated by San Jacinto – South (Texas) in an 11-3, six-inning loss.
Wallace State closes the season with a 49-22 record after making their 10th NJCAA national tournament appearance. The Lady Lions advanced to the national event for the second consecutive year and eighth time in 10 seasons. Until last season, Wallace State had finished no worse than third in the nation during its last five trips to the national tournament, including winning the Division I national title in 2008 and 2013.
Chipola College built a big cushion with a nine-run third inning against Wallace State, which couldn't overcome four errors.
The Lady Lions, who entered Thursday winning 43 of their last 50 games, maintained an early 2-1 lead against the Lady Indians after an RBI single by Molli Garcia in the first and leadoff solo homer by Karra Elam in the second.
Chipola responded with 11 unanswered runs to advance in the winner's bracket. Chipola's Gabriela Santos was 3 for 4 with a homer, a pair of RBIs and four runs scored, Brianna Surrento had three RBIs and Ashley Morris was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs.
Elam finished 2 for 2 for Wallace State. Amber Hammonds and Katie Parr each added a single.
Julia Dailey, Shelby Brown, Brittany Ledbetter and Haley Hughes all pitched for Wallace State.
San Jacinto-South eliminated Wallace State behind 15 hits. The Lady Coyotes scored four runs in the second, three in the third, three in the fifth and ended the game with a walk-off homer. San Jacinto-South had five players finish with multi-hit games.
Wallace State grabbed yet another early lead on a Julia Dailey solo homer in the top of the second, but San Jacinto-South answered with four runs in the second for a 4-1 advantage.
Hammonds hit a solo homer for Wallace State in the third inning, and Taylor Beshears added an RBI single in the fourth.
Garcia singled and scored a run for the Lady Lions.
Freshmen Jessie Butler and Savannah Bolton pitched for Wallace State against the Lady Coyotes.
Wallace State advanced to the NJCAA Division I championship after winning its 10th Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament championship on May 3. Dailey was the tournament MVP for Wallace State, while Beshears, Garcia and Sarah Ellen Battles were also all-tournament selections.
Beshears set multiple single-season school records this season, including tallying 84 RBIs.
Wallace State interim coach Jeff Benson was named the 2016 ACCC Coach of the Year.
Wallace State's sophomore class consisted of Dailey, Garcia, Battles, Parr, Shelby Brown, Leisha Yamauchi, Olivia Royal, Jennifer Gonzalez, Kayla Byrd, Megan Quimby, Erin Benson and Ashley Smith. The sophomore class was a part of 111 wins, two conference championships and two national tournament appearances in two seasons.