Local softball players shine in national college tournaments


Ansley Smith, who helped lead the Northgate Lady Vikings to a state softball title in 2011, is a step closer to adding to her impressive resume—this time with a national title.

The University of Kentucky sophomore and her teammates will travel to Los Angeles this weekend to take part in the NCAA Super Regional against UCLA in the best-of-three series.

Should Kentucky get past UCLA, they would advance to the College World Series next week in Oklahoma.

Smith, who plays shortstop for the 14th ranked Lady Wildcats (47-16) has been a major part of the team’s success since stepping on the Lexington campus two years ago.

As a freshman, Smith started nine games and hit three homers and drove in nine runs. This year she has again hit three home runs and finished with 13 RBIs.

The Lady Wildcats advanced to the Super Regional with a 10-1 win over DePaul. Smith walked and scored a run in that contest.

Kentucky and No. 4 ranked UCLA (51-6) begin its series Saturday at 8 p.m., in a game to be televised by ESPNU.

ANDERSON CAPS OFF CAREER WITH STRONG EFFORT AGAINST TENNESSEE: Another one-time Lady Vikings standout was unable to continue her season while witnessing the close of her collegiate career over the weekend.

Ashley Anderson struck out nine for Lipscomb during a hard-fought 2-0 loss to No. 10 seeded Tennessee in Knoxville to close an impressive 20-8 record during her senior season.

Coming off a high school career where she helped Northgate’s program to three consecutive state semifinals including a Class AAAA title in 2006, Anderson rebounded from an injury-plagued junior year to thrive as a senior.

“This is one of the greatest teams I have had a chance to play with,” Anderson said. “We just approached it like every other game.

She held a Tennessee team that connected for six homers in a 12-0 win over Virginia Tech to just one in Sunday’s loss. Her nine strikeouts against the Lady Vols were one shy of a season high in a game that had had previously been set three times in 2014.

“I truly believe Ashley left it all out there” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “Ashley held them down long enough to give our offense a chance.”

Anderson finished her final year with a 1.64 ERA in 33 appearances while posting a team-best 140 strikeouts.

The Lady Bisons finish the season 41-15, the second time in the NCAA era they have won more than 40 games in a season. The Lady Vols, 45-10, advance to the Super Regional.

OWEN CLOSES RECORD-SETTING CAREER AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Former East Coweta pitcher Alison Owen, who began her college softball career at the University of Georgia before transferring to Mississippi State, ended her career with a trip to the NCAA tournament.

The redshirt senior set a career record for strikeouts in Starkville despite beginning her career at Georgia. She was the only player on the MSU roster with College World Series experience.

In her final season, Owen led Mississippi State in innings pitched with 176 and also went 18-12 with a 2.98 ERA and 223 strikeouts — third most for a single-season in school history. She leaves the program with two of the three 200-plus strikeout campaigns ever recorded in the program.

Mississippi State ended its season with a 39-21 record after losing 4-3 to Texas.

MYATT, BURNS PART OF REINHARDT’S RIDE TO NAIA WORLD SERIES: Freshmen Carleigh Myatt and Katie Burns, who have continued their career as freshman teammates following standout careers at Northgate, joined Reinhardt in its trip to the NAIA World Series. Myatt enters with a 7-4 record with 39 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. Burns has appeared in seven games for the Eagles (44-8), who won three games last week in its host tournament to advance.

Reinhardt makes a return trip to the World Series in Columbus. The Eagles open the double-elimination event as the No. 5 seed against St. Gregory’s (Okla.) on Friday at 4 p.m.

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