By Kay Hawes, NAIA Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Pictures courtesy of www.NAIAPictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) It was the battle of the freshmen pitchers as No. 10 seed Spring Hill (Ala.) defeated No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian (Texas), 4-2, at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Wednesday.
Tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Spring Hill scored two runs in the seventh behind clutch hitting and a bunt that took the Lady Chaps by surprise. Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Lubbock Christian struck out and got two base hits to put runners on second and third, but a ground-out ended the scoring threat and the contest.
Spring Hill head coach Alison Sellers-Cook was not surprised her team could produce in the top of the seventh.
“I told the girls that if that (inning) didn’t show you what we are capable of doing in this tournament, then nothing will,” said Cook. “For the kids to get on base, lay down the bunt in the crucial situation and my lead-off hitter to get a hit off a changeup and score the runner from second base is huge.”
Spring Hill’s freshman pitcher, Caroline Sagrera, had seven strikeouts, and Lubbock Christian’s freshman pitcher, Katera Eltsosie, had 11 in the losing effort. Sagrera moved to 39-10 on the year, and Eltosie finished her season 28-7.
Having a freshman pitcher on the mound at the bottom of the seventh with the tying runs on second and third might be a scary situation. For Sagrera, it was business as usual.
“Caroline is clutch,” Cook said. “The harder it gets, the better she is. She wants this so bad, and she knows what we are capable of. She bore down and got the job done as well as her defense behind her.”
Lubbock Christian scored single runs in the third and fifth inning and left 14 runners on base against the Badgers, which was a program record. Spring Hill scored two runs in the second inning and then came on strong with two more in top of the seventh. The Lady Chaps also were hampered by four calls of an illegally batted ball for batters stepping out of the box prematurely.
Lubbock Christian had to work its way through the loser’s bracket and play against two opponents Wednesday. The Lady Chaps end their year with a record 61 wins and 10 losses.
Spring Hill advances to play top seed Concordia (Calif.) in the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship finale at 5 pm EDT in Columbus, Ga. The Badgers lost to Concordia in the quarterfinals Tuesday, but Spring Hill has come back from adversity before.
“To get here, we had to win twice in South Carolina (in Opening Rounds),” Cook noted. “I told the team, ‘You are prepared for this.’”
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.