CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The No. 3 ETSU Buccaneers claimed their first-ever SoCon championship after shutting out the fourth-seeded Samford Bulldogs, 6-0, on Saturday at Frost Stadium on the campus of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
With the win, ETSU improves to 29-24, giving them the most wins in program history as a member of the SoCon, and snaps a 13-year drought without a winning season. With today's championship victory, the Bucs, who started their softball program in 2001, secured their first-ever berth to the NCAA Softball Championship.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, end the season with a 25-36 mark.
ETSU senior pitcher Lindsey Fadnek was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after tossing five innings in the championship game without surrendering a single run, while only giving up one hit in her ninth win of the season. She also struck out five of the 21 Samford batters she faced on the day. For the tournament, Fadnek was sensational. The Coalfield, Tennessee, native did not allow a single run in 11 innings pitched in two starts and three appearances at Frost Stadium. Fadnek also posted 10 strikeouts and only one extra-base hit - a double - and went 2-0 with a save in her three appearances.
The Bucs scored a run in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. ETSU took control of the game with three runs in the third inning when 2017 SoCon Player of the Year Danielle Knoetze hit a three-run homer to left field to widen the Bucs' lead to 4-0. ETSU then added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the final score 6-0.
ETSU center fielder Mykeah Johnson went 3-for-4, while ETSU second baseman Nikki Grupp, who was named to the SoCon All-Tournament Team, and senior first baseman Taylor Carter collected two hits each. Knoetze concluded her day going 2-for-4 going at the plate with four RBIs, three of which came off her three-run shot.
Samford center fielder Shelby Maze and right fielder Madison Couch recorded one hit each. Maze ends the season with a school-record 90 hits and 22 stolen bases. Adams (12-15) took the loss in the circle, pitching 2.0 innings, giving up four runs on five hits. Senior pitcher Jessica Stone took to the circle for the Bulldogs today, tossing 4.0 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits.
The Bucs landed three players on the SoCon All-Tournament team with Fadnek, Grupp and junior pitcher Madison Ogle.
For the tournament, Grupp posted team-highs in batting average (.455), slugging percentage (.818), runs scored (six) and led all SoCon players in on-base percentage (.625). Ogle went 2-0 in three appearances at the tournament, registering an ERA of 0.82 with six strikeouts and just eight hits in 17 innings of work. ETSU senior outfielder Brooke Baxter earned the SoCon's Pinnacle Award as the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the winning team.
The Bulldogs nabbed a league-high four players to the All-Tournament Team with senior pitcher Grey Adams, Couch, Maze and left fielder Kelsey Royalty.
ETSU will find out its NCAA tournament destination on Sunday at 10 p.m. (ET). The selection show will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Lindsey Fadnek, ETSU, Sr, P
Nikki Grupp, ETSU, Fr., 2B
Madison Ogle, ETSU, Jr., P
Grey Adams, Samford, Sr., P
Madison Couch, Samford, So., RF
Shelby Maze, Samford, Jr., CF
Kelsey Royalty, Samford, So., LF
Quirisa Mauga, Mercer, Jr., 3B
Ashley Conner, ,Chattanooga, Jr., 3B
Madison Armstrong, Western Carolina, C, So.
Most Outstanding Player
Lindsey Fadnek, ETSU, Sr., P
Pinnacle Award Recipient
Brooke Baxter, ETSU, Health Sciences, 4.0 GPA