NORFOLK, Va. (NSUSpartans.com) – Sophomore Tuli Iosefa led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo blast to left to give the Norfolk State softball team a walk-off, 1-0 victory against Howard in MEAC action on Sunday afternoon at the NSU Softball Field.
Iosefa ended the pitcher’s duel on a 2-1 pitch, sending her eighth homer of the season over the left field wall and giving the Spartans the MEAC Northern Division championship. NSU finished the regular season at 11-4 in the league.
Second-place Morgan State, a team the Spartans took two out of three against earlier this year, moved to 10-4 on the season after a Sunday win over Coppin State.
NSU ended the regular season on a high note on Senior Day, improving to 24-18 overall this year. The Spartans have already guaranteed themselves a winning season for the first time in six years and the fourth time overall in Division I/
Howard, which won both games on Saturday against NSU, fell to 8-7 in the league and 15-26 overall.
Iosefa finished a 3-for-3 day with her solo shot. Both junior Shelby DesChamps and freshman Lily Potter each hit 2-for-3 as the Spartans ended the day with eight hits.
Howard only had five thanks to the pitching of a pair of NSU seniors. Shannon Buffington and Hunter Halford continuously switched between the pitcher’s circle, first base and designated player along with freshman Gabby Vaughan to keep HU off balance. Halford (13-10) got the win after pitching three innings, including the last two outs of the seventh, and allowing three hits. Buffington started and allowed just two hits in four innings of work.
Mackenzi Steele (10-16) suffered the loss after coming in to pitch in the seventh. Tracey Mosley got the no-decision after allowing seven hits but no runs in the first six innings.
Both teams had chances to score before the seventh. NSU turned a double play in the first with runners on first and second, while the Spartans had a runner thrown out at home in the bottom of the fifth on DesChamps’ double to left center.
Howard’s best chance came in the sixth when the Bison put runners on second and third with one out. But Camille Navarro’s suicide squeeze attempt only rolled a few feet in front of the plate. The third of NSU’s three-player senior class, catcher Kylee Lopez, got HU’s Alannah Baiyina in a rundown between third and home to preserve the 0-0 score. The Spartans got the third out of the inning and also worked around a one-out single by Howard in the seventh.
By virtue of its series win over Morgan State earlier this year, NSU secured the Northern Division’s No. 1 seed even if MSU were to win its make-up game and move to 11-4 on the year. The Spartans will play the No. 4 seed from the Southern Division at noon on May 8 to open the MEAC tournament at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex in Florida.