After losing its first outing to No. 16 Grand View University, the Tabor College softball team had some work to do to get back in contention at the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round in Oklahoma City May 15.
Facing Eastern Oregon in an elimination game, the Bluejays relied on the tools that earned Tabor a KCAC title: pitching, defense and timely hitting.
After a long weather delay, Madison Byrd took the mound determined to lift her teammates on her shoulders. Byrd was dominant, pitching a complete game, two-hit shutout, her eighth scoreless game of the season.
Byrd earned her 20th win walking just one batter and striking out five, pushing her season total over 200 for the second consecutive year.
The defense was impeccable as eight different Bluejays recorded putouts. Mountaineer hitters popped out seven times, flied out four times, lined out twice and grounded out twice as Byrd had EOU on its heels throughout.
Tabor had base runners in the first three innings, but could not capitalize until the fourth inning, when a manufactured run broke the ice. Kerrigan Travens led off with a walk and Chelsey Knight came on to run for her.
One out later, Knight stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw from the catcher. With two outs Shanae Strate, getting her first start since March, came through with a hustling play on a hard hit ball to the pitcher that got away and allowed Knight to score and Strate to reach base.
It was all the Bluejays would get and all Byrd would need as Tabor won 1-0.
The Bluejays turned around immediately to play Grand View again for a chance to play in the championship game.
Tabor seemed to feel the effects of a long day and an intense game. The Vikings jumped to a big lead and never looked back. GVU scored seven runs in the first inning en route to a 13-0 victory.
The Bluejays ended the season with a 30-21 record.