GULF SHORES, Ala. - (Updated Schedule & Box Scores) The first round of bracket play at 10 a.m., is complete as four teams moved into the winner's bracket at the NAIA Softball National Championship. The event is being held for the second-straight year at the Gulf Shores SportsPlex.
Brenau (Ga.), in only its second-ever National Championship appearance and first trip to bracket play, shut out Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), 4-0. The teams are out of the Southern States Athletic Conference and split a pair of meetings this year during the regular season. Jenny Shepard was nearly unhittable in the circle for the Golden Tigers.
She went the distance as she allowed just two hits and struck out five. She allowed six walks but escaped out of multiple jams.
Tiffany Schandera and Lana Lazar led off the bottom of the first for Brenau with a pair of singles. Schandera scored on an errant throw after Lazar's hit. Two batters later, Lazar scored on a passed ball to make the score 2-0. Brenau tacked on single runs in the second and sixth to preserve the victory.
In its first bracket appearance in school history, Central Baptist (Ark.) staved off an Indiana Southeast rally to take the 2-1 contest. Jade Detzer homered over the left field fence in the top of the seventh to pull the Grenadiers to within one run. However, Central Baptist's Jessica Bock struck out Allie Alford to end the game.
Christen Kirchner hit her 17th home run of the year to lead off things in the first inning. After Erica Gunter was hit by a pitch, Kirchner sailed a 1-1 pitch to left to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead. That was enough run support for Bock.
Bock earned the win with seven innings of five-hit ball. She struck out four and walked two.
Oklahoma City's Lily LaVelle continued her dominance in the circle with her fourth-straight complete-game win in the national championship. The Stars scored two runs in the second to back LaVelle and defeat William Carey (Miss.), 2-0. Through four games, she has pitched all 28 innings and allowed zero earned runs. She has given up 14 hits and struck out 42. Today, she gave up three hits and fanned eight.
Oklahoma City's Jamie Rateliff had the big hit in the second inning. With Kyle Rounsaville on and one out, Rateliff deposited the 0-2 pitch over left field.
In a back-and-forth battle, Shorter's (Ga.) two-run fifth inning held up in the 4-3 victory over Cal State San Marcos. In the top of the seventh inning, the Cougars had the tying run on third base with one out. Alicia Ingram, who reached on a fielder's choice, tried to advance from third to home on a passed ball. However, she was tagged out at home for the third out to end the contest.
Shorter took a 2-1 lead thanks to two runs in the third inning. The Cougars countered with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 3-2 edge. However, Emily Clements had the game-winner with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.
Cougar Alyssa Dronenburg was the offensive star as she blasted two roundtrippers to give her four homers in four championship games.
Oklahoma City will take on Shorter at 12:30 p.m. today, while Brenau and Central Baptist square off at 12:30 p.m., in the winners bracket. In the loser's bracket, Auburn Montgomery and Oklahoma City battle, while William Carey and Cal State San Marcos are scheduled to meet.