Story by Alfred Kojima, NAIA Media Assistant
Pictures courtesy of NAIAPictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) Junior Cassie Daniels recorded her second shutout victory and third overall of the World Series as No. 2 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) notched a 2-0 decision over No. 5 Reinhardt (Ga.) in a winner’s bracket game at the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series at the South Commons Softball Complex on Tuesday.
With the victory, the Warhawks (43-6) will enjoy a day of rest before advancing to the championship game of the 2014 World Series Thursday night at 5 p.m. EDT. The appearance in the title game marks the first time in the six-year history of the Auburn Montgomery program that the Warhawks will be playing for a national championship.
“When I recruited these kids, they came in with a dream… to put together a program to compete for a national championship and that is what we have done,” said Auburn Montgomery head coach Christina Steiner Wilcoxson.
Daniels struck out nine batters, allowed six base hits and earned her 11th shutout of the season to improve to 20-4 overall. The junior from Valley Grande, Ala., is now 3-0 in the World Series with 25 strikeouts, 11 hits allowed in 21.0 innings and a 0.00 ERA.
Reinhardt was held off the scoreboard for the first time this season since a 4-0 loss to Virginia Intermont on March 12.
Sophomore Shelby Sinclair and senior C.J. Browder had two hits each for the Eagles. Freshman Madison Luck took the loss, dropping her record to 36-3 overall. She worked 2 1/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five base hits. She allowed three walks and struck out two.
In the top of the third inning with one out for the Warhawks, junior Katie Spain reached base on a fielding error. Sophomore Laura Shaw stepped in and struck her 13th home run of the season. It was her second two-run home run in as many nights as the Cumming, Ga., native struck a two-run roundtripper against William Carey (Miss.) on Tuesday. Shaw finished the night 3-for-3 with two RBI.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Reinhardt had the tying runs on base. Sinclair singled down the left field line. A double by senior Katie Rietkovich set up runners at second and third. A strikeout and ground ball to third ended the inning.
Daniels retired the Eagles in the seventh inning with two strikeouts, before a single put a runner on first base. She then induced a ground out to end the game.
The Southern States Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year was proud of her team battling through the season to get to this point.
“This year, we have had some many injuries… It’s great to come through all of that adversity and it’s worth it because we are here at the national championship. We are the first group to go (to the title game), but we just don’t want to go, we want to take it. No one is going to give it to us.”
The Eagles (46-9) drop to the loser’s bracket and will meet either No. 2 Oklahoma City or No. 6 William Carey (Miss.) in an elimination game Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The 34th Annual Softball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council.
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