The Brenau softball team celebrates winning the AAC championship. (Cheryl Gray for Brenau University)

Brenau softball wins 2021 AAC tournament, punches ticket to NAIA postseason

May 3, 2021
Kris Stewart
Hannah Patridge celebrates during the softball game. (Cheryl Gray for Brenau University)

Senior starting pitcher Cameron Dillard from Lawrenceville, Georgia, pitched a complete game while the Brenau University bats pounded out 12 hits to defeat Reinhardt University from Georgia 10-0 in five innings and capture the 2021 Appalachian Athletic Conference championship on Friday, April 30.

Brenau entered the tournament as the eight seed and went 5-1 en route to the title, including wins over all four of the top-seeded teams.

After Reinhardt survived elimination in the opening game of the championship earlier in the day, Brenau started fast in the final game with two runs in the top of the first inning. Senior Faith Grooms opened the game with a double to right-center, then sophomore Morgan Tyler reached on a bunt to put two runners on early. Freshman Abigail Brown grounded out to score Grooms and then freshman Hannah Patridge singled to score Tyler for an early 2-0 lead.

In the top of the second, the Golden Tigers extended the lead to 5-0 as Tyler hit an RBI single to score senior Karly Smith. Brown continued the hit parade with a double down the right field line to score two more runs.

The softball team won the 2021 AAC championship. (Cheryl Gray for Brenau University)

The offensive onslaught continued for Brenau in the top of the third inning as the squad posted five more runs to chase Reinhardt starter Whitney Shepherd from the game and extend the lead to 10-0.

Dillard kept complete command during the title game, holding the Reinhardt lineup to only four hits to earn All-Tournament team honors. Dillard’s performance capped off an impressive run as she pitched over 36 innings in the tournament, earning five wins while posting a sterling 2.24 ERA.

The Brenau offense backed Dillard throughout the tournament as the team hit .327 during the six-game stretch, including outscoring opponents 37-15.

Grooms earned Most Outstanding Player honors for her play as the senior hit .391 with two home runs with nine RBIs and two stolen bases.

Joining Grooms and Dillard on the All-Tournament team were Tyler and Patridge.

Brenau now advances to the 40th annual NAIA softball opening round, which will be played from May 17-19.