Trojans Win Second Straight Conference Carolinas Softball Title - Clinch Spot In NCAA II Regional

Trojans Win Second Straight Conference Carolinas Softball Title - Clinch Spot In NCAA II Regional

The University of Mount Olive softball team repeated as conference champions. This year, they did it without all the drama.

Beth Overman's bases-loaded two-run double highlighted a five-run third inning that broke a scoreless tie and Most Valuable Player Carly White posted her fourth win of the tournament as fourth-seeded University of Mount Olive defeated No. 2 seed King University 11-3 in the championship game of the 2014 Conference Carolinas Softball Tournament Sunday at Burlington, N.C. The conference title was the second in a row for the Trojans, which has won nine consecutive conference tournament games, dating back to last year.

With the championship, Mount Olive clinches a spot in the Southeast Regional of the NCAA Division II Softball Championship for the second consecutive year.

Joining White (10-5) on the All-Tournament Team were first baseman Beth Overman and outfielders Kelsey Akers and Ashleigh Mason.

Mount Olive (24-24) was held hitless until Jennifer Jones led off the top of the third with a double to left-center and went to third on White's bloop single to left. Savannah Becker's single up the middle brought Jones home with the game's first run and opened the floodgates.

Akers drew a walk to load the bases and pinch-runner Megan Ready scored when Mason reached on an error. Overman then went opposite field with a fly ball that landed just inside the line in deep left field to bring in two runs and extend Mount Olive's lead to 4-0. Caitlin Ewers' sacrifice fly capped the inning.

After Mason singled in a run in the top of the fourth, King (29-26) capitalized on an error to score an unearned run and halt White's bid for her second shutout of the tournament. The Tornado used back-to-back two-out rbi-doubles by Hannah Smith and Cheyenne Delffs in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 6-3.

Madison Johnston, who recorded a save in the Trojans' win over Limestone in the second round, came in and got a strikeout to end the inning.

Mount Olive dashed any comeback hopes in the top of the seventh as the Trojans loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batsman, a throwing error and Jones' infield single off the pitcher. Pinch-hitter Erin Brogan cleared the bases with a triple to right field to give Mount Olive a 9-3 lead. The Trojans added two more runs on Becker's sacrifice fly and Overman's rbi-single.

Johnston allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but secured her second save on a lineout to third baseman Kalie Smith, who fired to Overman at first for the game-ending and tournament clinching double play.

White went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs. She struck out two and walked none.

In last year's conference tournament, Trojan head coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham maintained a three-pitcher rotation in all seven games. This year, she started White every game.

"You ride the person with the hot hand and Carly had the hot hand," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "There was no question we were going with the senior and she put us on her back."

White not only went 4-0 in the tournament, but is now 7-0 with a no-decision in her last eight starts. Her current streak started with a five-hit shutout on Senior Day.

"That was definitely a turning point," said White, a senior right-hander from Ash, N.C. "I had struggled and the team had struggled earlier, but we came in here this weekend with a lot of confidence."

Starting with the doubleheader sweep April 12 on Senior Day, Mount Olive will take a 10-game winning streak into the regional. Bids will be announced May 5 for the Regional, which gets underway May 9.

This year's conference tournament run was in direct contrast from last year when Mount Olive had to win four consecutive elimination games – including two 10-inning wins in one day – just to reach the championship game.

"Last year was exciting, but I prefer the way we did it this year," said White.