MACON, Ga. – Mercer tallied seven runs on 11 hits – including back-to-back home runs in the third inning – and Stella Preston recorded a national-leading seventh save of the season as Mercer posted a 7-2 win over Alabama State in the regular season finale at Sikes Field Wednesday evening.
Preston, who entered in the fifth with the potential game-tying run at the plate, struck out the first batter she faced and only allowed one hit in 2.1 innings in the circle. The freshman did not allow a run as she fanned two and walked one. Megan Bilgri (11-7) was credited with the win after allowing only one run on four hits in 4.0 innings pitched.
Mercer (24-29) held a 1-0 lead over Alabama State (16-31) when Quirisa Mauga sent a two-run shot over the right field fence only to be followed by Emma Andrew's solo home run to left center, pushing Mercer out to a 5-0 lead.
Alabama State would add single runs in the fourth and fifth innings then have the bases loaded in the fifth when Preston entered with two outs. Striking out ASU's Perry Hindi, she began her march to the national lead in saves.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
When you lead the nation in something, it's hard to dismiss that feat. When a freshman does it, the mark becomes even more notable. Stella Preston gets the nod for the game after allowing only one walk and one hit with no runs and two strikeouts as she faced eight batters in 2.1 innings in the circle. Facing bases loaded and two outs when she entered the game, she immediately issued a strikeout – her 82nd of the season – and got the Bears out of a jam. She continued to sit down ASU batters en route to her national leading seventh save of the season.
STAT OF THE GAME
Mercer leadoff batters were 3-for-6 (.500) in the contest while the Bears pitching and defense recorded an out on all seven of Alabama State's leadoff hitters (0-for-7, .000) in the game.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
· Win: Megan Bilgri, Mercer (11-7)
· Loss: Justine Jean, Alabama State (3-12)
· Save: Stella Preston, Mercer (7)
Mercer: 24-29 (16-12 home)
Alabama State: 16-31 (7-14 away)
· Mercer: at the Southern Conference Tournament starting Wednesday, May 10 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Unofficially, the Bears have secured the No. 5 seed.
· Alabama State: at the SWAC Tournament starting Wednesday, May 10 in Montgomery, Ala.
· Mercer is now 24-3 all-time against Alabama State with a 16-2 mark in games played in Macon. The Bears have now won 15 of the last 16 meetings against ASU.
· With her seventh save of the season, Stella Preston is now in sole possession of first place in the national rankings in saves. Sydney O'Hara (Syracuse), Kelsey Fredericks (Miami, Ohio) and Megan Landry (Nicholls State) all are one behind her with six saves each.
· With her seventh save, freshman Stella Preston is now tied for second in career saves at Mercer, matching the seven saves Kristi Montgomery recorded from 2000-03.
· Also on Preston's seven saves, she is now tied for fifth in Southern Conference history for saves in a season. Her mark matches the seven saves of Chattanooga's Amy Robertson in 1998.
· With one hit in the contest, Meghan Rud moves into a tie for seventh in the Mercer single season record book with her 69th hit of the season. That matches the 69 hits registered by Kerri Ryskamp in 2004.