PETERSBURG, VA- The Winston-Salem State University Lady Rams (28-11) captured the 2014 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Championship in thrilling fashion on Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 victory over the Saint Augustine's Lady Falcons (18-21). The Lady Rams clinched their seventh CIAA Championship in program history with the win and will make an NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional appearance May 9th-11th. The Lady Rams had to hold off a furious late rally by a Lady Falcons team that never quit.
WSSU junior Monet Daly led the Lady Rams to the victory after a stellar performance in every facet of the game. In addition to playing both second base and getting the pitching victory, she also scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the victory. For her efforts, she was honored as the CIAA Tournament Most Valuable Player after going one-for-three at the plate with triple and a run scored as well as pitching two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout and just one hit allowed.
"I just want to cry. I'm at a loss for words" Daly said following the win. "Benz [freshman pitcher Mercedes Hargett] threw an amazing game and everyone came in to back her up and everyone hit. It was just an amazing game."
After a scoreless first inning, SAU third base Taylor Walters led off the top of the first inning with a base hit to left field for the Lady Falcons. Falcons catcher Jo'Landa White's single allowed Walters to score and gave Saint Augustine's an early 1-0 advantage.
The Lady Rams answered in the second inning when senior catcher Francesca Edgerton was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the second inning and Jada Johnson laced a single up the middle to put the pressure on the Lady Falcons defensively. A Lady Falcon error led to two runs for the Lady Rams in that same frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Edgerton ripped a triple to right field and later scored on a passed ball to extend Winston-Salem State's lead to 3-1. A Lady Falcon error in the bottom of the fifth inning allowed freshman outfielder Chyna Riley to score and pushed the Lady Rams' advantage to 4-1.
Though the Lady Rams were in control, the team had to fend off a furious seventh-inning rally. With runners on second and third in the top of the seventh, SAU first base Michelle Shackelford punched a two-run single up the middle to put the Lady Falcons within striking distance and swung the momentum in favor of the Lady Falcons. An error by Winston-Salem allowed Cierra Neal to reach base, and knotted the score 4-4. Though tied, the Lady Rams overcame their struggles to pull out the victory.
"When I made that error, I got a bit down on myself," WSSU senior infielder Tanaya Pettus said. "But I knew that my teammates would pick me up."
With the game on the line, Daly answered the call in the bottom of the seventh with a triple down the right field line and scored on an errant throw to secure the 5-4 win for Winston-Salem State.
WSSU freshman Mercedes Hargett threw 6.1 innings in the contest, surrendering just four hits and four runs (two earned). Daly (2-0) picked up the win for the Lady Rams after entering the contest in-relief of Hargett with one out in the seventh. Riley finished the game with two hits for Winston-Salem State. Daly, Edgerton and Jada Johnson each had base hit knocks for the Lady Rams in the win.
Outfielder Korey Hill led the effort for the Lady Falcons with two hits in the loss. Shackelford, Walters, and White all had hits for Saint Augustine's.
"This win means a lot to me," senior infielder Tanaya Pettus said following the win. "It's my senior and my last time competing for a conference championship and I'm happy and excited about getting a chance to go to regionals."
For the tournament, three Lady Rams earned spots on the 2014 CIAA All-Tournament team. Edgerton and Hargett joined Daly on the team.
With the win, the Lady Rams finish the season with a 28-11 overall record and will await the 2014 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. For more information on Lady Rams softball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.