Story by Jared Bodammer, NAIA Media Relations Assistant
Pictures courtesy of Rick Dominowski, Click HERE to order
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) It was an evening of classic pitchers’ duels in Sioux City, Iowa, at the 36th Annual NAIA Softball World Series, presented by Security National Bank and Morningside College featuring Saint Xavier’s (Ill.) Nicole Nonnemacher and Oklahoma City’s Georgia Wall. Hits and runs were at a premium.
In the end, Wall and her Oklahoma City teammates went 2-0 on the day, coming back through the elimination bracket to claim Oklahoma City’s ninth national championship and first since 2007. In the 36-year history of the event, this was only the fourth time that a team emerged from the elimination bracket and captured the title. St. Mary’s (Texas) defeated Oklahoma City, twice, in 1986, Thomas (Ga.) defeated Simon Fraser, twice, in 2004 and Lubbock Christian (Texas) defeated Mobile (Ala.), twice, in 2008.
After falling to St. Xavier, 1-0 in a winner’s bracket meeting on May 30, Oklahoma City won five-straight World Series games including a pair of shutouts this evening over the Cougars (2-0 and 5-0).
In the first championship game, Nonnemacher, a senior and two-time NAIA National Pitcher of the Year got through the first two innings brilliantly, holding the Stars hitless until Oklahoma’s City’s Shelbi Legg drew a single in the third, but never advanced. In the fourth, a throwing error put the Stars’ Jaci Smith on first. Then with the next at-bat, Kyndra Holasek, the NAIA’s career hit leader, doubled to right field and was able to score thanks to a throwing error, putting Oklahoma City up 2-0. Up until that point, Nonnemacher had thrown 24 scoreless innings at the series for the Cougars. The two spot was all the offense the Stars needed, though they almost added insurance runs in the fifth as they laced two hits and left two aboard.
St. Xavier threatened in the bottom of the first, placing runners on second and third before Wall and company was able to retire the side. The Cougars also stranded a runner in the third and seventh. It was Wall who held the Cougars in check. The freshman hurler pitched seven scoreless innings allowing just one hit, while striking out three. Nonnemacher allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings of work in the first championship game, while striking out six.
The story of game two continued to be ace pitchers as well as the long ball for the NAIA’s top team. In game two, with two outs in the bottom of the first, Nonnemacher had a bunt single followed by a single by Brittany Plimmer. Jessica Arebalo then drew the walk from Wall to load the bases with two outs, however, Wall got Savannah Kinsella to ground out and the Stars were able to get out of the inning.
Then in the top of the second, Leslie Miller singled before a two-run homer by Madison Ellis as she drove the ball over the left field fence, to give Oklahoma City an early 2-0 advantage. The Stars would twice load the bases again, in the fourth and in the sixth, only to be held at bay by Nonnemacher. However, in the seventh, Miller belted a three-run insurance homerun for the Stars, pushing the advantage to 5-0.
The Stars outhit the Cougars, 9-4 in the final game. Wall pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only four hits. Nonnemacher allowed five runs on nine hits and struck out eight. The Cougars left nine runners on the pads including two in the fifth when they left runners on second and third.
“I have been blessed with so many talented athletes, but this team was special,” said Oklahoma City head coach Phil McSpadden. “It’s not about coaching, it’s recruiting. We had team speed. We had power. I thought we were pretty solid offensively. We replaced our entire outfield and as far as pitching, we had most of the tools.”
This was St. Xavier’s seventh NAIA World Series appearance and first since 2013. They are 12-13 all-time at the series and finished the season with a record of 46-10-1. For Oklahoma City, it was its 29th appearance at the series and first since 2014. The Stars are 120-45 all-time at the series and finished 2016 with a mark of 67-3.
Wall was named the MVP of the World Series after producing a 6-1 mark on the Jensen Softball Complex mound, allowing just four earned runs in 46 innings of work. The complete all-tournament team can be found below:
Sydney Dishman - Auburn University of Montgomery
Taylor Powell - Auburn University of Montgomery
Breena Smith - Marian University
Morgan Fogelman - Morningside College
Madison Ellis - Oklahoma City University
Jaci Smith - Oklahoma City University
Georgia Wall (MVP) - Oklahoma City University
Erika Bellinger - Webber International University
Rylee Rogers - Williams Baptist University
Sutv Meely - St. Gregory’s University
Katie Godfrey - St. Gregory’s University
Nicole Nonnemacher - Saint Xavier University
Brittany Plimmer - Saint Xavier University
Kasey Kanaga - Saint Xavier University
Caryle Avey - Simpson University
Taylor Stultz - Southeastern University
Cat Maldonado - Southeastern University
The double-elimination event is being played out at the Elizabeth & Irving Jensen Softball Complex. The City of Sioux City and Morningside College serve as official hosts for the second-straight time. For more information on the 2016 NAIA Softball World Series, click here.