DECATUR, Ala. – The California Baptist University Lancers defeated St. Gregory’s (Okla.) University 3-2 to claim the 2009 NAIA Softball National Championship. California Baptist, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA and the top seed in the tournament, capped off a sweep through the tournament with a 3-2 victory over the Cavaliers in the 29th Annual NAIA Softball National Championships.
The game started with No. 7 St. Gregory’s (43-16) posting two runs in the top half of the first inning. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases for St. Gregory’s. Christina Helland singled to drive in the game’s first run. The next hitter, Mel Dwight, walked to drive in the second run.
California Baptist (61-5) pitcher, Emma Holden, shook off the rust and recorded a strikeout to end the frame.
In the bottom of the first, California Baptist responded with three runs to take the lead. Ashley Boyd, who was named the national tournament MVP, wasted no time in getting her team’s offense going as she drove a lead-off homer to left field, cutting the deficit in half. Two walks and a fielder’s choice later, Nicole Shoemaker doubled down the right field line, scoring Sarah Hurlbut and Sarah Strong to give the Lancers the 3-2 lead.
Over the next six innings, Sharon Bell of St. Gregory’s and Holden of California Baptist matched each other pitch-for-pitch as neither team could muster any offense. Both teams managed just four hits each in the contest.
In the top of the seventh inning, St. Gregory’s put up one final rally attempt, trying to force a second game. Bell singled to start the inning. After a pop out, Heather Humphrey singled and represented the go ahead run at first base with just one out. Melanie Ahumada then entered the game for California Baptist to try and close the game. She recorded a pop up on the infield and a fly out to center field to earn the save and give her team their first national title.
Holden (15-2) tossed 6.1 innings, allowing just four hits and two runs with six strikeouts for California Baptist. Ahumada earned the save, getting the final two outs. Bell (29-9), who set a new national tournament strikeout record with 85 strikeouts, went six innings, allowing four hits and three runs with seven strikeouts for national runner-up, St. Gregory’s.
2009 NAIA Softball National Tournament All-Tournament Team
Ashley Boyd, California Baptist – Tournament MVP
Nicole Shoemaker, California Baptist
Tory Ferreira, California Baptist
Nikki Lowe, California Baptist
Mel Dwight, St. Gregory’s (Okla.)
Sharon Bell, St. Gregory’s (Okla.)
Heather Humphrey, St. Gregory’s (Okla.)
Sara Jane Webster, Dickinson State (N.D.)
Kelly Jahn, Dickinson State (N.D.)
Jody Lantz, Dickinson State (N.D.)
Amanda Howard, Oklahoma City
Mindy Crabaugh, Oklahoma City
Tyler Lent, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Melissa Gomez, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Kelly Griego, Lubbock Christian (Tex.)
Anna Ball, Notre Dame (Ohio)