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Benedict opens SIAC tourney with win

Posted on Fri, Apr. 16, 2004, The State Newspaper

Benedict opens SIAC tourney with win

Leadoff hitter Gumbs-Prince was key factor in each run-producing inning

By JOHN DEVLIN

Special Correspondent

Benedict College opened the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference softball tournament Thursday at T.S. Martin Park with a 7-5 victory against Fort Valley State.

The Tigers (24-10) will face Miles College, the No. 2 seed out of the SIAC Western Division, today at 11 a.m., and will play again at either 1 or 3 p.m., depending on the early game’s outcome.

Benedict got off to a fast start, scoring two runs in the first inning, and increased the lead to 7-0 against the error-prone Wildcats through four innings. At that point, however, the Tigers suddenly seemed to lose interest, and ended up sweating out the verdict when Fort Valley plated two runs in the sixth and added three more in the seventh.

“I was hoping to end the game in the fifth (via the 10-run rule), but we got a little too lax with the big lead and starting making mental and physical mistakes,” Benedict coach Gwendolyn Rouse said. “We’re going to have to stay focused from start to finish if we want to play for a championship.”

Early on, the Tigers’ speed and timely hitting hinted at a rout that never quite materialized.

Leadoff hitter Lalique Gumbs-Prince was a huge factor in all three of Benedict’s run-producing innings. The fleet, switch-hitting freshman from the Virgin Islands walked in the first, stole second and scored the first run of the game on a single by Silver Bluff High product LaShanteau Green. In the third, Gumbs-Prince reached on a bunt single, swiped second again and scored once more on another Green single. Her contribution in the four-run fourth inning was a sacrifice bunt.

Gumbs-Prince, Green and shortstop Shackia Liburd all had two hits to highlight Benedict’s 11-hit attack. Green and No. 9 hitter Natassia Wilkes had two RBIs apiece.

Tigers starting pitcher Deanna Butler, who was cruising with a four-hit shutout, gave way to Tina Sanders in the fifth inning, but was hastily called back to the circle to defuse a budding Fort Valley rally in the sixth inning. The sophomore from Aiken High was then roughed up in the seventh as four Wildcats hits and an infield error netted three runs.

“I hoped to get (Deanna) out early and end the game in five innings, but that didn’t work out the way I planned,” Rouse said.

Fort Valley State (19-14) also finished with 11 hits, three by cleanup hitter Ashley Foster.

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