MONTGOMERY, Ala. – One tough inning defensively broke a deadlocked game as Alabama A&M topped the Alcorn State University softball program 4-0 Friday at the 2019 SWAC Championships at the Barbara Williams Complex.

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when two defensive miscues in one at-bat got AAMU (24-18) on the board when the inning could have ended. The Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed from the East Division, continued the frame with a two-run homer to leap ahead 4-0.

“We had some times where we were doing some things at a really high level. The bottom of the fourth just got to us. We gave them some extra opportunities and they took advantage of them. The first three innings defensively were outstanding. We made some great plays and had a lot of energy on the field and in the dugout. Even offensively, we had a lot of hard contact. The key for us is to get to a point where we are doing that consistently for the entire game,” said Alcorn head coach Josef Rankin.

In her final game in an Alcorn (14-24) uniform, senior Victoria Tyler went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double. Tyler ended her career ranked ninth all-time in school history in career hits with 119, eighth in doubles with 23 and sixth in RBIs with 77.

Also making her final career appearance was senior Paige Taylor. She pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief. Taylor, an All-Conference First-Team selection, won 13 games in just two seasons which is eighth-most all-time in program history.

“As our season ended, you feel for the two seniors we have. You always want to try to end things on your own terms on the field,” Rankin said. “Those are two awesome young ladies who have invested a lot. They are graduates and that’s awesome. I appreciate what they’ve done for our program.”

Dorsey got the start in the circle and did not allow an earned run in 4.0 innings. Lauren Hayden pitched a complete-game shutout for AAMU to grab the win.

Alcorn, the No. 3 seed from the East Division, outhit AAMU 7-6. Freshman Brooke Roach submitted her first career three-hit game. She was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double.

The Lady Braves had an opportunity to get on the board in the first inning. After a two-out double by Tyler, Roach reached on an infield single and freshman Sandrea Hord walked to load the bases. However, Hayden recorded a flyout to center to strand three baserunners.

Alcorn nearly got on the board in the third inning. With one out and a runner on first, Roach cranked a towering flyball that hit the top of the wall in center field – the runner at first was sent all the way around, but was thrown out at the plate on a very close call.

“Sometimes offensively you really need to catch some breaks. There were some that just didn’t go our way. The game started off with Simone [McKinney] being called out after hitting a ball to first and the second baseman never stepped on the bag when she came over to cover. After another out, Victoria hits a double. It’s probably 1-0 after three batters,” Rankin said. “We had a play at the plate that defied physics. Hard to understand how your runner’s hand is on the plate and she’s tagged on her waist and she’s out. I get those guys are trying, but it really becomes a problem when they are drawing so much attention. I believe AAMU had at least one diving catch that ended a scoring opportunity for us.”

AAMU broke through in the fourth after taking advantage of misplays defensively by the Lady Braves. With runners on first and second with two outs, a routine grounder to short could have ended the inning, but it was thrown away which allowed one runner to score, and then a throw from right field got away for another run to come in on the same play to make it 2-0. Madison Pozzi followed with a two-run homer to left to increase the lead to 4-0.

Alcorn had a chance to score in the top of the fifth after loading the bases with one out. It came after a walk by sophomore Desirea Lindsey, and singles by Tyler and Roach. However, Hayden escaped with a flyout and pop up to keep the Lady Braves off the scoreboard.

“However, we had plenty of opportunities to create our own breaks and we just couldn’t do it,” Rankin said.

With the season coming to a close, the Lady Braves broke the school record for fewest runs allowed in a season with 169. The previous record was 176 set in 2005. The 138 earned runs were also a school record, topping the previous mark of 139 in 2005.

Individually, Taylor ended sixth in single-season ERA with a 3.12, and seventh in wins with 10. Taylor also became just the fourth student-athlete in school history to register three shutouts in a year.

Dorsey’s 86 strikeouts are seventh all-time in a season. She’ll enter 2020 ranked sixth all-time in school history in strikeouts with 142, eighth in innings pitched with 239.1 and ninth in career starts with 38.

“Moving forward, we need to just be better all around. We allowed too many things outside the actual game to affect us this year. Way too many. We need to work hard over the summer, grow up a little bit and come back hungry to reach out ultimate goal,” Rankin said.