Scots claim USA South title outright behind Joliff's no-hitter, Brewer's bat

Scots claim USA South title outright behind Joliff's no-hitter, Brewer's bat

The Maryville College Scots celebrated Senior Day in style, as MC claimed its first-ever USA South Athletic Conference Regular Season title with an 8-0 five-inning win over Agnes Scott.

Maryville's Casey Joliff tossed a no-hitter in the five-inning blitz, as the junior walked only one. She struck out three to aid the Scots in completing the championship run outright.

The USA South Western Division crown is the first since the Scots claimed a Great South Athletic Conference title in 2009, as MC posted a 12-2 record within conference play this season.

"This means more than anything I could ever ask for," senior Rachel Taylor said. "Going from the lowest points of not even winning 15 games or making the tournament at all freshman year to being on top and the No. 1 seed [my senior year] it just shows how much people have bought into this program and what Coach [Leah] Kelley has brought in. It finally happened, and I couldn't be more excited."

Kelley and Maryville celebrated the careers of their senior first baseman Taylor and student manager Jesse Burris. On the field, Taylor has led Maryville to historic heights, as the Scots earned only 14 wins during her freshman campaign in 2015.

Taylor earned her first collegiate pitching victory in Kelley's first coaching win at Maryville College, before she aided MC in advancing to their first USA South Tournament appearance in school history last year.

This season, she helped the Scots claim their first conference title in nine years.

"There's no one more deserving than Rachel Taylor," Kelley said. "She's seen this program at its absolute lowest. For her to come back and stay with the process, be coachable and really believe in the program in earning this regular season title, it's just outstanding. It's a great moment."

Maryville hosts Tennessee Wesleyan College on Monday, before they look to the USA South Tournament beginning next weekend.

MC goes into the tournament as a top-ranked squad. They will host Wesleyan College (Ga.) on Saturday, April 7 for a double header with an as-needed game on Sunday in the best-of-three first round.

"To host the first round means a lot," Taylor said. "We have a good support system – a lot of fans who will come out. If we tell them to come, they will come. Just to have good fans there cheering us on, it means a lot. Being able to go to the postseason – now that we've all been there – I think the nerves are out of the way. We can just come and play softball."

The remainder of the tournament will be held in LaGrange, Ga. the following week.

The Scots claimed their 23rd win on the day, as it ranks as the third-straight 20-win season for Maryville. They will look to make a run in the tournament with the school record for wins in their sights. MC won 27 games in 2007 with a 27-13 record to advance to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history.

"That just shows our consistency," Kelley said of the progress of her team. "It's about building a program. Every year, you try to get a little bit better. Whatever you did last year, you try to beat it. Last year, we had our highs, and we had our lows. This year, we've been pretty consistent. Right now, it's all about the postseason."

Maryville College would jump on the board in the first inning, as Morgan Brewer slapped a lead-off single. Christina White added a double to put two in scoring position, before Essence Strambler's sacrifice fly plated Brewer from third for a 1-0 Scots' lead.

Back-to-back-to-back doubles would score a pair of runs for the Scots in the bottom of the second. Brewer's double to right-center just past a diving glove for two RBI. It scored both Sarah Gordon and Ashton Hayden who had doubled earlier for a 3-0 Maryville lead.

An error and a single would put runners on, before Strambler and Taylor would advance to scoring position on a wild pitch. Taylor Campbell would bounce a hit off the fence in center to score Strambler, before Alexus Murray's RBI single to left plated Taylor for a 5-0 lead going to the fourth.

The Scots would like up the scoreboard again in the bottom of the fifth, as Murray single and stole second. Gordon added an RBI single through the left side to score Murray, before Hayden could single to short. Brewer laced a two-RBI double to left-center to score both runners for the 8-0 win, as Joliff's no-hitter led the way.

"That's awesome," Taylor said. "I didn't know she threw a no-hitter. All the team was like, 'Today's your day. Enjoy it. It's all about you.' So, to be able to play around these girls, it just means so much. Despite anything that I do, it's definitely a team effort. Casey on the mound, Brewer getting those hits at the end and Christina White with a couple of RBI down line – it's fun to watch them play."

Maryville (23-10, 12-2 USA South) was led by Brewer who went 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored. White was 3-for-3, as Gordon went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and an RBI. Hayden was 2-for-2 with two runs, while Murray went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Campbell was 1-for-3 with an RBI, as Taylor went 1-for-3 with a run. Strambler added a run and an RBI for Maryville.