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Talladega College Tornadoes
Softball - Wed, Apr. 19, 2017
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The Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) announced its 2017 Softball Tournament qualifiers for the upcoming conference championship on Tuesday afternoon.  The 2017 tournament will be held May 4-6 at the Grizzly Softball Complex on the campus of Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Ga.

The four teams that qualified for the 2017 championship tournament include 2016 runner-up Georgia Gwinnett, Edward Waters (Fla.), Talladega (Ala.), and Fisher (Mass.).

To date, Georgia Gwinnett is the fifth-ranked team in the NAIA and carries a 43-7-1 record through 51 games.  The Grizzlies are led by junior center fielder Niki Cook and sophomore pitcher Taylor Hansis.  Cook currently leads the NAIA in six categories including heights in steals (61), hits (101), runs scored (76), and total bases (61).  In the center circle, Hansis carries a 17-4 record with two saves and has posted a 1.78 ERA while striking out 130 batters in 125.2 innings of work.  The Grizzlies are undefeated against fellow A.I.I. programs in 2017, going 5-0 with wins against Kentucky Christian and Talladega.

Edward Waters currently carries a 19-21 record and is 4-0 against A.I.I. member institutions with doubleheader sweeps of Central Christian (Kan.) and Morris (S.C.).  Lauren Eaker leads the Tigers with a .333 batting average, collecting 31 hits in 93 at-bats while driving in 13 runs and scoring 20 times. Kali Barnhill leads EWC in the center circle with a 5-0 record in 10 appearances.  The hurler carries a 4.48 ERA and has struck out 21 batters in 29.2 innings of work.

Talladega is 14-30 on the year, picking up keys wins against St. Andrews (N.C.), Concordia-Selma (Ala.), and provisional A.I.I. softball member Stillman College (Ala.).  TC is led by the one-two punch of Taylor Espinoza (.357) and Vanessa Oakley (.330) as the duo has combined for 66 hits, 43 RBIs, 41 runs scored, 10 doubles, and 11 home runs.  The Tornadoes will conclude the 2017 regular season with doubleheaders against GGC and Edward Waters.

Fisher has posted an 11-13 mark in 2017.  The Falcons have a team batting average of .326 through 24 games and have won 10 straight after starting the season 1-13.  To date, Fisher has scored 139 runs and is undefeated at home.  Shortstop Morgan Selmi leads the Falcons with a .465 batting average, driving in 11 runs on 33 hits while scoring on 26 occasions. 

The A.I.I. tournament seeds will be announced on Thursday, April 27 at the conclusion of the regular season.