Story by Alfred Kojima, NAIA Media Assistant
Pictures courtesy of NAIAPictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) A late rally came up short as No. 2 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) defeated No. 6 William Carey (Miss.), 2-1, in a winner’s bracket game at the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series at the South Commons Softball Complex on Monday. In battle of Southern States Athletic Conference teams, Auburn Montgomery held on late to even the season series at 1-1.
The Warhawks (42-6) advance to meet No. 5 Reinhardt (Ga.) in a winner’s bracket championship game Monday night at 7 p.m. EDT. The winner of that game will be in the driver’s seat of the double-elimination event, as they will have a day off before returning to the World Series title game to be played Thursday.
The meeting tomorrow will be a homecoming of sorts for Auburn Montgomery coach Christina Steiner Wilcoxson. The sixth-year head coach was the general at Reinhardt for three seasons from 2005-07.
William Carey (48-11) drops to the loser’s bracket and will face No. 10 College of Idaho in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Junior pitcher Cassie Daniels went the distance in the circle, as she allowed an unearned run with four walks, while striking out seven to improve to 19-4 on the season. In two World Series games, she has the third-most strikeouts at 17.
"We knew they (William Carey) were going to battle us and give us a good effort,” said Steiner Wilcoxson. “They have great hitters and great speed. I was really proud of our girls and how they attacked.
“Cassie pitched a great game. She is a competitor and wants to win and battle for her teammates. She is a fighter and I can't complement her enough. That is why she is who she is and that is why we have been able to produce the teams we have produced behind her because she goes out and battles.”
Both teams missed out on an early scoring chance. Junior Relanda McFarland began the game for William Carey with a walk. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a stolen base. Then, senior Sarah Beckman lined into a double play to end the Crusaders’ half of the first.
With one out in the bottom of that inning, freshman Therese Byrne and junior Katie Spain produced back-to-back singles for Auburn Montgomery. Sophomore Lauren Shaw singled to shallow left, however Byrne was thrown out at the plate. A ground ball out ended the inning.
In the third, Byrne singled up the middle, moved up to second on a stolen base and scored ahead of a two-run home run by Shaw, her 12th of the season. That play handed the Warhawks a 2-0 lead.
The score held in favor of Auburn Montgomery until the Crusaders sixth. With one out, junior Lindsey Webb walked and moved to second when McFarland bunted for a base hit. A misplayed grounder loaded the bases. Beckman stepped in and delivered a sacrifice fly that was handled by junior Ainsley Faulk in foul territory. Webb scored just ahead of the throw to trim the lead to 2-1. A fly ball ended the inning.
In the Crusaders’ seventh, junior Hannah Cook-Kelley dropped a base hit over the outstretched reach of Warhawk sophomore shortstop Jennifer Jenkins. Senior Katy White stepped in as a pinch runner. She moved to second on a sacrifice hit and to third on a fly ball to right. However, a strikeout ended the game.
William Carey could muster only two base hits against Daniels. On the other side, Byrne, Shaw and Kayle Hale all posted two-hit games for the Warhawks.
The 34th Annual Softball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council.
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