By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications and Sports Information
Photos courtesy of www.NAIAPictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) No. 6 Williams Baptist (Ark.) advances to its first-ever round of four at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site after a 4-0 victory against No. 8 Reinhardt (Ga.) at the South Commons Softball Complex on Tuesday. The Lady Eagles rode the arm of senior pitcher Karisa Hendrix. Hendrix gave up three singles and a double in the complete-game win.
Williams Baptist, who becomes the first team from the American Midwest Conference to make the semifinals since 1995 (McKendree (Ill.)), takes on No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian (Texas) Wednesday at 4 p.m. EDT in the day’s first semifinal. Reinhardt finishes its season with a 45-9 record.
Hendrix shook off her last ineffective start from Monday. In the 7-1 loss to No. 10 seed Spring Hill (Ala.), Hendrix gave up six earned runs in 4.1 innings. Today, she shut out a Reinhardt offense that last went scoreless May 17, 2012 in national championship pool play.
Reinhardt had its scoring opportunities though, with two walks, but the team stranded seven runners. The Lady Eagles left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning and runners were stranded at second and third in the fifth frame.
Williams Baptist plated a run on starting pitcher Maddie Monroe in the top of the first inning. Felicia Woodard reached on a dropped fly ball and came around to score on a single by Lauren Sweeten. It was Sweeten’s first hit in seven at-bats in the championship.
The Lady Eagles increased the lead to 4-0 with a trio of runs in the third. With the bases loaded, Monroe was called for a balk, which scored the inning’s first run. Callie Brooks drove in two runners with a single up the middle. That big inning for Williams Baptist was enough to support Hendrix in the circle.
Hendrix moved to 25-6 on the year as she fanned six Lady Eagles.
“We had really good defense,” said Hendrix when asked about the win. “I know whenever I am throwing, the defense will always have my back. We got an early lead and that kind of relaxed everybody and I was able to just throw.”
A year removed from playing in its first-ever national championship, the Lady Eagles are using that experience this time around.
“That (championship) gave us confidence,” said Hendrix. “We were a really good team last year and we were able to build on it. This year we have some freshman that are stepping up and so it’s been fun to become one big unit, cheer each other on and have each other’s backs.”
Sweeten and Brittany Merritt ended the day with two hits apiece for Williams Baptist.
Lindsey Booker finished 2-for-3 for Reinhardt. For the four games in the championship, Booker batted 6-for-11 (.545) with two runs scored.
The championship is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council. This is the 33rd annual championship and takes place in the state of Georgia for the first time in NAIA softball history.
For more information on the national championship, click here.