ALBANY, Ga. -- After spending four long years away from postseason play due to NCAA reclassification rules, Spring Hill College's softball team defeated Tuskegee University, 3-1, to win the 2019 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship at the Gordon Sports Complex.
"The whole coaching staff, we're all extremely proud of them," said second-year SHC head coach Steve Kittrell, who was named SIAC Coach of the Year for winning his first collegiate softball conference tournament. He won nine conference tournament titles during a 26-year college baseball career. "We started 3-10 and things could have gone a lot of different directions. They stayed true to the task and true to the goal. It was great to see for me personally, coming back after a few years in retirement, to see that celebration after that final out."
SIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player Hannah Brenton pitched her third complete game of the tournament, allowing only one unearned run while striking out eight batters to pick up the victory for the Badgers. The win marks the first conference tournament championship for the softball program since taking the Southern States Athletic Conference crown as members of the NAIA in 2014. The win also gives SHC Athletics its fourth conference tournament championship this season (SIAC - women's volleyball, women's cross country; Gulf South Conference - Men's Soccer) in the first athletic year it has been eligible for postseason play in NCAA Division II due to reclassification rules.
The conference title is Kittrell's second as a Spring Hill College head coach. He coached the SHC baseball team to a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title in 1983 before beginning his 25-year career as the baseball coach at the University of South Alabama (USA), winning 1,052 games and eight Sun Belt Conference Tournament titles, retiring from coaching in 2011. He returned to SHC in 2018 as softball coach.
The Badgers (30-19) will now wait until this Monday, May 6 at 9 a.m. to find out where they will be placed in the field of 64 teams that makes the NCAA Division II Softball Championship. Regional play will take place at 16 campus sites May 9-11, with 16 teams advancing to Super Regional play on campus sites May 16-17. The final eight teams will convene at the Regency Athletic Complex in Denver, Colorado, for the final round May 23-27.
"Now we have an exciting week ahead of us, and an exciting challenge ahead of us," said Coach Kittrell. "We want to go out, wherever we get sent, and play our best softball of the year. To our girls' credit, they've been playing their best softball this past month. It's a very exciting time. Wherever we get sent, we're going to be excited and we're going to play to the best of our abilities."
2019 SIAC Softball All-Tournament Team
Hannah Brenton, SHC
Aly Fowler, SHC
Delaney Thomas, SHC
Jamea Lyons, Tuskegee
Kyah Dumas, Tuskegee
Paola Flores, Kentucky State
Jackie Zubiate, Kentucky State
Shakerra Geter, Fort Valley State
Megan Sheperd, Albany State
JaiMesca Parks, Lane
MVP: Hannah Brenton