By Alfred Kojima – NAIA Media Assistant
Picture by www.NAIApictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) A solo home run by senior second baseman Shainna Groom in the sixth inning propelled No. 1 seed Concordia (Calif.) to a 7-6 victory over No. 8 seed Reinhardt (Ga.) in a winners bracket game at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Saturday. That run broke a 6-all tie in the sixth inning.
The go-ahead run eclipsed a furious six-run rally by Reinhardt (44-8) as the Eagles entered the fifth inning with no runs and no base hits. In the center circle for Concordia (49-3) was senior pitcher Katie Cotta, who prior to the game allowed only three earned runs in 150 innings of work for a microscopic 0.14 ERA. Cotta managed to survive the rally and went on to post her 24th victory of the season. The Stockton, Calif., native walked one batter and allowed four hits, while striking out 15 batters. It was the first earned runs that Cotta allowed since March 30.
“I felt like we let them stay in the game where we had some chances to make it out of their reach,” said Concordia head coach Crystal Rosenthal. “I am so proud of my team’s resiliency after coming back after a rough inning. That is what you have to do at this part of the season – keep pushing.”
Concordia will advance in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination event and will play No. 4 seed Oklahoma City Monday at 4 p.m. EDT. The Lady Eagles drop to the loser’s bracket and will face No. 7 seed Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in an elimination game Monday at 1 p.m.
Concordia collected three-consecutive base hits to begin the game. Junior Annette Merjano was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, however the Eagles left the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Eagles broke the game open in the fourth inning, pushing across five runs, keyed by a bases-loaded walk to junior Caitrin Debaun and a bases-clearing triple by junior Jenna Jorgenson. CU managed 12 hits overall in the contest, three by senior Bryana Simpson and two by Jorgenson.
Trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Reinhardt sent nine batters to the plate. A bases-loaded walk to freshman Kandi Gates was followed by a base hit by senior Lindsey Booker, which plated two runs. A two-RBI single by freshman Alexis Chumbler made it a 6-5 game. After Chumbler moved to third on a wild pitch, sophomore Haley Brannon stepped in and lifted a fly ball into foul territory along the third-base line. The ball was fielded by the Eagles, but Chumbler beat the throw home to tie the game at 6-6.
Cotta managed to retire the final six batters, five via strikeout, to close out the game.
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.