Story by Donnie Smith
Pictures courtesy of Good Paul Media, Click HERE to order
CLERMONT, Fla. – (Box Score) (Bracket) No. 4-seed Science & Arts (Okla.) used a four-run third inning to defeat No. 10-seed Columbia (Mo.), 4-1 for its first NAIA Softball World Series Championship. The Drovers rolled through the World Series event undefeated at 4-0 and needed just the first championshiip game to eliminate Columbia. The 38th annual event is hosted by PFX Athletics for the second-straight year.
Key Turning Point of the Game:
- In the bottom of the third, Science & Arts scored four unearned runs with two outs, highlighted by Shania Beck’s ninth home run of the season; a three-run shot to left.
- Emily Cerny was named Softball World Series Most Valuable Player, throwing a complete game and giving up just one run on five hits with four strikeouts. At the plate, she was 2-for-2.
- Beck finished the day 2-for-2 with a run, three RBIs, and a walk.
- Rachel Sullivan led the way for Columbia with a 3-for-4 effort and an RBI.
- This is the second NAIA National Championship for Science & Arts, which was the Division I Men’s Basketball champion in 2002.
- The Drovers were making their fourth appearance in the World Series, and first since 2006.
- Cerny pitched all 30 innings this week, holding opponents to a .193 batting average against, and struck out 27 hitters, and posted a 1.17 ERA. She also led the team in hitting, going 4-for-8 (.500) with two runs scored.
- After the Cougars scored in the top of the second, Cerny allowed just three base runners between the third and seventh innings.
- Columbia (Mo.) struck first with an RBI single by Sullivan, scoring Natalie Dummitt, who tripled with one out.
- Sullivan was the top hitter for the week, posting a .409 average with nine hits.
- Molly Carter took the loss, despite not allowing an earned run in 2.2 innings of work. Carter homered twice during the week.
- This was Columbia’s 17th appearance in the World Series, and first placing.
- This marks the 11th Softball World Series title for the State of Oklahoma, which is the most.
- Both teams were making their first Softball World Series Championship Game appearance, bringing the total number of teams to play in a championship game to 38.
USAO Coach Jaydn Wallis on the program’s first championship:
“We’ve preached win every pitch of every inning all year long and they did that. Going into postseason, I didn’t think we had peaked yet. I think that’s what it takes to have a national championship team is to peak at the right time. My hitters came through when we needed it and our seniors got the job done.”
On Tournament MVP Emily Cerny:
“She’s a true competitor. I compare her to a bulldog because she never stops, and that’s what makes her so great.”
On the four-run third inning:
“We needed the momentum. Columbia is a great ball team and focuses on momentum and thrive off it and I knew we had to do that as well.”
2018 NAIA Softball World Series All-Tournament Team:
- Baleigh Loux, Oklahoma City
- Jaci Smith, Oklahoma City
- Harlee Donovan, Southern Oregon
- Kelsey Randall, Southern Oregon
- Sydney Willhite, Georgia Gwinnett
- Niki Cook, Georgia Gwinnett
- Sadie Baugh, Marian (Ind.)
- Kassidy Cadle, Marian (Ind.)
- Kelsey Kooistra, Indiana Wesleyan
- Caitlyn Carter, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
- Alexandra Linck, Columbia (Mo.)
- Shanie Beck, Science & Arts (Okla.)
- Lexi Dickerson, Columbia (Mo.)
- Randa Hatter, Science & Arts (Okla.)
- Molly Carter, Columbia (Mo.)
- Chloe Clifton, Science & Arts (Okla.)
- MVP- Emily Cerny, Science & Arts (Okla.)