HUNTSVILLE - Senior Ashley Goetz came up with the biggest hit of her career at just the right moment.
In her final home game, Goetz sailed the ball over the left-center field wall in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift Sam Houston State to a 4-3 victory over Stephen F. Austin Sunday to clinch the program’s first outright regular-season Southland Conference championship since 1993.
Senior Lindsey McLeod also went out on top in her final home game, striking out Rita Corona, the SLC home run leader, with two on and two outs in the top of the seventh for her fourth save of the season. The final out preserved an outstanding start by junior Karina Sanchez, who picked up the victory to improve to 2-5 on the season.
Freshman Kyndal Kutac gave the Bearkats (31-21 overall, 22-5 in SLC) new life in the fifth. After Goetz singled to lead off the inning, Kutac ripped her ninth home run of the season down the left-field line to tie the game at 3.
Sophomore Brooke Malia put the Bearkats on top in the first inning. She blasted her 10th home run of the season over the center-field wall with two outs.
Some tough luck for Sam Houston State led to three runs for the Ladyjacks (34-19, 18-9) in the second inning with two outs. Shortstop Tiffany Thompson committed a rare error on a soft liner with a runner on third to tie the game.
SFA got two singles sandwiched around a walk to score two more runs to take the lead at 3-1.
Sanchez rolled after that. She tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings until McLeod took over in the seventh.
The Bearkats will be the No. 1 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament in Natchitoches, Louisiana Tuesday through Friday. Sam Houston has a bye in the first and second rounds and will play Wednesday at 11 a.m. against an opponent to be determined.