Chambers pitches for Claflin

Claflin pitcher Bre'Zhay Chambers picked up the wins in both early games on Tuesday for the Lady Panthers in the 2019 CIAA Softball Championship tournament in Salem, Va.


SALEM, Va. – Senior Kayla Cato, the 2019 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Player of the Year, hit an RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday as Claflin University defeated Virginia State University 7-6 to escape elimination for the third time on the day and advance to championship day of the 2019 CIAA Softball Championship.

The Lady Panthers will face Winston-Salem State University on Wednesday for the CIAA conference title and the right to receive the automatic bid into the 2019 NCAA DII Regionals, scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, May 9-11.

Claflin will have to defeat WSSU twice on Wednesday in order advance to the regional. The Rams enter championship day undefeated.

First pitch is set for 1 p.m. with the 'if necessary' game to follow at 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s game will be available free to watch online via live stream at theciaasn.com.

The contest between Claflin (36-18) and VSU was the second match-up between the two in the tournament. The Trojans defeated the Lady Panthers 2-1 on Monday's opening day game one, sending Claflin to the losers' bracket.

In the elimination game, VSU had the momentum early, using two hits and two Claflin errors to score three runs in the top of the first.

The Trojans held Claflin scoreless for the first two innings, but the Lady Panthers then slowly chipped away at the VSU lead. Claflin scored one run in each of the third and fourth innings, and two in the fifth, to even the score at 4-4 after five complete. The Trojans scored one run in the sixth and one in the seventh to take a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The Lady Panthers continued pressing, putting their first two batters on base in the bottom of the inning. Cato led off with a single up the middle and Kaela Robinson reached on a fielder’s choice. The runners advanced to scoring position off a wild pitch. Cato then scored on another wild pitch to bring the Lady Panthers to within one.

Marion Goins hit an RBI-single up the middle to score Robinson from third base and tie the game at six-all. A LaKaylin Lee' flyout ended the inning. 

Shaniya Thomas, who picked up her 13th win of the season, struck out 3 of 4 batters in the top of the eighth to keep Claflin's hopes alive.

Angel Johnson led off the bottom of the eighth with a single through the left side. Chaston Huntly's sacrifice bunt moved Johnson, who advanced to third with nobody covering the base on the throw to first, setting the stage for Cato’s walk-off single.

Johnson was 3-of-4 with two runs and Goins finished the game 3-of-4 for Claflin.

Brooklyn Bilyard, credited with the loss in the circle, led the Trojans at the plate with two hits and a run.

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In Claflin's opening game of the day, the Lady Panthers came from behind to defeat Fayetteville State University 15-3.

FSU put up three runs in the top of the first and held Claflin scoreless over its first two innings.

The Lady Panthers' bats came to life in the bottom of the third, batting around twice, posting 10 hits and forcing three Broncos errors to score 14 runs and take control of the game. The Lady Panthers led 14-3 after three complete.

Claflin's defense remained solid over the final two innings of the shortened five-inning game, holding FSU scoreless the rest of the way.

The Lady Panthers put up one additional run in the bottom of the fourth to take the lopsided win.

Huntly was solid at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Johnson contributed two runs with two hits and three RBI. Cato, Chelise Morman and Ashley Thomas all crossed the plate twice in the win. Bre’Zhay Chambers was the winning pitcher, allowing three runs with four strikeouts.

Mallory Carpenter had one hit with one run, while Grace Vincent contributed a triple and a run in the loss.

Claflin shut out the two-time defending CIAA tournament champions Chowan Hawks, 7-0, in its middle game of the day.

The Lady Panthers' offense wasted no time getting on the board, putting up two runs in the bottom of the first. The Lady Panthers added two more runs in the bottom of the second for a 5-0 lead after two complete.

Claflin added two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth.

The Lady Panthers were solid defensively all game, holding the Hawks to just five hits in the contest.

Chambers won her second game of the day, holding Chowan scoreless in picking up her 17th win of the season.

Shannon Buchanan went all six innings, giving up seven hits, as the Hawks were eliminated from the Championship.

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