Southeast Missouri State's Mykaela Arellanes celebrates after scoring a run against Jacksonville State on Saturday. Southeast beat JSU twice to win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title, and Arellanes was named tournament MVP. (Trent Penny ~ Anniston Star)
For the first time in 20 years, the Southeast Missouri State softball team has won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship.
The Redhawks beat three-time reigning tournament champions Jacksonville State twice Saturday in Oxford, Alabama, to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
It's Southeast's first conference tournament title since 1999, which is also the last time the program advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Southeast (45-16) and JSU had split the regular-season conference title with the Redhawks earning the top seed in the tournament thanks to a coin flip.
The Gamecocks beat Southeast on Friday, though, which meant Southeast had to go 3-0 to win the tournament.
The Redhawks did just that. They beat Eastern Kentucky on Friday and then defeated JSU 8-2 and then 6-5 on Saturday to claim the title.
Haley Thogmartin got the win in Game 1, giving up two runs in 6 2/3 innings. She returned in the sixth inning of Game 2 and pitched a scoreless two innings to secure the save.
In Game 1, JSU scored a run in the second inning, but Southeast responded with two runs in the third. After the Gamecocks scored again to tie the game at 2-all, the Redhawks scored three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings and cruised from there.
Southeast rode that momentum in Game 2, scoring the first six runs. JSU scored five in the sixth but that was it.
Thogmartin worked around a two-out single in the seventh, inducing a game-ending fly out to left field to set off the celebrations.
Southeast outfielder Mykaela Arellanes was named tournament MVP after she went 8-for-16 with four walks, eight RBIs and seven runs scored over five games.
The Redhawks have already set a school-record for wins. Now, they look to keep the season going in an NCAA Regional next weekend.
Check back to semoball.com later Saturday for more photos and a complete recap of Southeast winning the OVC Tournament.