Tarleton stuns defending national champs to begin softball regional

Shelby Hedrick is congratulated by teammates after earning a save with three shutout innings Friday. (Tarleton Athletic Communications Photo)

CANYON (TheFlashToday) — In its first NCAA Division II playoff contest since 2007, with only one senior and true freshmen on the hill and behind the plate, Tarleton State did the unthinkable Friday evening.

Tarleton, which crept into the South Central Region Championship as the No. 8 seed, used the combined pitching gem of Haley Freyman and Shelby Hedrick to knock off a defending national champion in a playoff game for the first time in program history.

The TexAnns defeated top-seed and third-ranked West Texas A&M 2-1 at Schaeffer Park in Canyon and move on to face Cameron at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. A win would put the TexAnns in the finals on Sunday.

It’s a double-elimination tournament tournament, with WTAMU moving to the loser’s bracket to face Angelo State in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Saturday. The winner keeps its season alive and faces the loser of Tarleton and Cameron at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Sunday finals between the winner of Tarleton and Cameron and the winner of the last Saturday game, begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The if necessary game will follow in typical doubleheader format.

Haley Freyman allowed a run on three hits and three walks while striking out two over the first four innings to pick up the win. The true freshman turned the circle over to junior Shelby Hedrick in the fifth, and Hedrick delivered the biggest performance of her college career. She shut out the Lady Buffs – who entered the regional averaging nine runs per game – over the final three innings, with four strikeouts helping her work around four hits.

All the runs were scored in the second inning Melody Mayse laced a bases-loaded single to left to bring in Erika Menchaca, then Savannah Stech walked to plate Delaney Wayland.

West Texas A&M could muster just one run in response with Allie Cranfill driving an RBI double to right-center in the bottom of the inning.

Oddly, it was the first meeting between the Lone Star Conference rivals. Their four-game regular-season series was canceled due to weather, and they didn’t meet in the LSC Championship last weekend, also in Canyon. WTAMU put the LSC tourney title on the back of its regular-season league championship, but none of that helped the defending national champs on Friday, when their plans for a 30th win at home instead resulted in just their sixth home loss this season.

Freyman got a bases-loaded groundout to prevent any further damage in WTAMU’s half of the second. then retired six of seven batters in the third and fourth. The only Lady Buff runner during that stretch reached on an error.

Hedrick entered the game after Freyman issued a walk to begin the fifth. After a bunt single and a stolen base, Hedrick got a ground out and a strikeout to preserve the Tarleton lead.

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