Courtesy of Edward Waters Athletics
Albany, Georgia-Former professional wrestling star and Hall of Famer Ric Flair had a saying that he made famous throughout his legendary run. He would often say “To Be The Man, You Have To Beat The Man.” That case rang true for Edward Waters in their first appearance at the Cricket SIAC Softball Championship Game locking up with multiple time and defending champion Tuskegee on Thursday afternoon at the Gordon Sports Complex. The Lady Tigers were able to serve notice that they were the new “Queens of the Diamond” in the SIAC, defeating the Golden Tigers 8-4, completing an undefeated run through the tournament, and capturing the SIAC title in their first full season competing as a member of the conference.
It was the second time that Edward Waters and Tuskegee met in the tournament, with the Lady Tigers taking an 8-4 victory in their second contest. Tuskegee went in the contest knowing that they had to defeat Edward Waters twice to keep their conference domination going.
TU plated the first two runs in the bottom half of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. After a scoreless second inning, the EWU offense got going in a big way in the top of the third. First team All-SIAC and Minority Softball Prospects All-Star Kylah Gardner connected on a two-run opposite field homer over the right field wall that tied things up at 2-2. The Lady Tigers plated two more runs in the top of the fourth on Laura Scott’s two-RBI single to give Edward Waters their first lead of the contest at 4-2.
The Golden Tigers cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the fifth, but Edward Waters pushed the lead back out to two in the top of the sixth on a Tuskegee throwing error that scored Jamiah Holmes to make it a 5-3 lead. The Lady Tigers added three critical insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. Brooke Rice scored on another TU throwing error, Jade Mention scored on a wild pitch, and Scott hit another RBI single to give EWU an 8-3 advantage. Tuskegee was able to add a run in the bottom half of the seventh inning, but relief pitcher Milani Sablan was able to strike out the Golden Tigers’ final batter, giving Edward Waters their first softball conference championship since the 2015 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title.
In her final collegiate contest of her career, Tiara Peters led the Lady Tigers at the plate going 2-for-2 with two walks in the matchup, while Brooke Rice finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Scott also had a multiple hit game for EWU going 2-for-5 with three RBI’s and a run scored. The Lady Tigers got it done on the basepaths as well with seven stolen bases on eight attempts in the matchup. Alyssa Charter-Smith was phenomenal in the circle for Edward Waters, going 6.0 innings, allowing four earned runs, and striking out seven Golden Tigers in the matchup.
Kylah Gardner, Brooke Rice, and Jodasea Peterson were selected to the All-Tournament Team, while head coach Mike Ellison was named to Coach of the Tournament. Peterson was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as well.
Due to the fact that Edward Waters is in the second year of their three-year transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II, the squad unfortunately will not be able to represent the conference in the NCAA Division II Softball Tournament and the conference’s automatic bid will go to Tuskegee. Despite that news, Edward Waters can hang their hat on the fact that they set a new program record for victories, ending the season with a 16-game winning streak, finishing the year with a remarkable 43-7 overall mark while also going 19-3 in SIAC play in the regular season. The Lady Tigers also claimed the SIAC Regular Season East Division Championship, the SIAC Tournament Championship, and will likely be unanimously chosen as the HBCU Softball National Champions for the second consecutive season.