By Dustin Semore
FHU Sports Information Director
A season that saw the Freed-Hardeman University Lady Lions win a program-record 54 games came to a premature end on Monday in the consolation quarterfinal of the 2022 NAIA World Series. The Lady Lions were shut out for the first time all season on the heels of a 6-0 decision to the University of Arts & Sciences (Okla.) Drovers.
Things did not begin well for Freed-Hardeman (54-6), who saw two batters retired to start the game on as many pitches. Sophie Dunavant stepped to the plate to work a 2-2 count before topping a single into left field before being stranded.
USAO (52-9) was off and running after the Lady Lions gave up a leadoff four-pitch walk. A backdoor pickoff attempt sailed deep into the right-field corner, allowing the Drover runner to touch the remaining three bases to put the Drovers ahead 1-0. From there, Arts & Sciences plated four more runs to hold a 5-0 lead after the first completed inning.
Freed-Hardeman was able to threaten in the top of the third inning, which saw Brittan Jarrell lead of the frame with a walk. Intending to sacrifice her at-bat to move her teammate into scoring position, Cassie Hayes reached base safely on an errant throw from the Drover pitcher. The quick start was just as quickly erased when the Lady Lions laced a line drive to the shortstop, who easily tossed to first to double off Hayes. A flyout ended the inning with FHU stranding Jarrell, the only runner they saw reach scoring position all day, at second.
After the Drovers led off the bottom of the third with a home run to push USAO to a 6-0 lead. From there Brittany Adair, pitching in relief from the second inning, settled down to retire six Drovers on strikes, keeping them off of the scoreboard for the remaining three innings.
Annalise Jarnagan ended her second visit to the NAIA World Series hoping to start up the FHU offense with a two-out single through the left side, but the Drovers picked up the final strikeout to end the Lady Lions’ season five victories short of their goal.
Morgan Crawford (13-2) picked up the loss, walking the first two batters she faced before giving way to Chloe Winters who finished the bottom of the first inning in the circle before Adair took over.
Dunavant and Jarnagin tallied the only hits for Freed-Hardeman, while Jarrell reached base safely twice on walks.
FHU ends its season with many program and career records broken. Among those is the team record for wins, the best overall record to go alone with Kennedy Harris breaking the career stolen bases mark. A full article containing all of the single-season records will be released later.