By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications and Sports Information
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) Sophomore pitcher Maddie Monroe tossed a complete-game shutout to lift No. 8 seed Reinhardt (Ga.) over No. 9 Saint Xavier (Ill.), 3-0, in the opening round of the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Friday. Reinhardt (44-7) advances into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination event and will play No. 1 Concordia (Calif.) Saturday at 7 p.m. EDT. Saint Xavier is scheduled for a 10 a.m. contest Saturday in the loser’s bracket.
Monroe (pictured top left - courtesy of www.naiapictures.com), who pitched 18.0 innings in the 2012 championship with a 0.78 ERA, made the pitches when she needed it today against the Cougars. She gave up eight hits, seven of which were singles, in a 140-pitch effort. The Appalachian Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year posted five strikeouts and two walks.
“Every time she gets on the mound she’s a bulldog,” commented Reinhardt coach Glen Crawford on Monroe. “When the pressure is on, she gives us the pitch needed to get the job done.”
Cougar lead-off hitter Nicole Nonnemacher was the top hitter going 3-for-4 with the only extra-base hit, a double in the first inning. But she was stranded after two strikeouts and a groundout.
Reinhardt scored all of its runs in the top of the second inning. Lindsey Booker laced a two-RBI single to right-center field to hand the Lady Eagles a 2-0 lead. One batter later, Shelby Sinclair, the seventh player to bat in the frame, knocked in Tyler Sampson with a single to left. When the dust settled, Reinhardt led 3-0 heading to the bottom of the second inning.
Saint Xavier (49-8) had its best scoring chance in the sixth inning after sending six batters to the plate. Kate Mollohan led off the bottom of the frame with a single to shallow left. Pinch-runner Denise Anderson replaced Mollohan and reached third on a ground-out and single. But, Monroe clamped down with one out. She induced a pop-out before Holly Hilden hit a single to load up the bases with two outs. The next batter Shannon Lauret grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The seventh frame for Saint Xavier was quiet one with just one base runner. Monroe struck out the final batter to improve to 27-2 in the circle.
Saint Xavier failed to score a run for just the second time this year (in 57 games) and first since April 28. The Cougars entered the game scoring an average of nearly six runs.
Megan Nonnemacher was hit with the loss to fall to 26-4 on the year.
For Reinhardt, Kelsey Floyd and Kaley Garmon each had two hits apiece to pace the eight-hit attack.
The championship is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council. This is the 33rd annual championship and takes place in the state of Georgia for the first time in NAIA softball history.
For more information on the national championship, click here.