By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications and Sports Information
Pictures courtesy of www.NAIApictures.com
COLUMBUS, Ga. – (Box Score) No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian (Texas) plated four runs in the bottom of the sixth and defeated No. 9 seed Saint Xavier (Ill.), 4-2, at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Monday. The Lady Chaps had zero hits heading into the game’s decisive inning, but knocked out four hits to take the win.
Lubbock Christian continues on in the loser’s bracket and will face the loser of No. 4 Oklahoma City and No. 1 Concordia (Calif.) Tuesday at 1 p.m. EDT. Saint Xavier ends its season with a school-record for wins at 50-9.
The big sixth inning for the Lady Chaps was a turnaround from the previous five innings. Saint Xavier starting pitcher Nicole Nonnemacher had a no-hitter through five, allowing three walks and just one Lady Chap to reach second base. But the nation’s fourth-best hitting team (.374) put the pressure on at the plate in the sixth.
Lead-off hitter Mallory Koschany knocked a single to second base to start the rally. She stole second before a pop up and strikeout. With two outs, Latainna Eltsosie knocked in Koschany with a double down the leftfield line. The next batter, Stephanie Rendon, hit her seventh home run of the year to give the Lady Chaps a 3-2 lead.
Ashton Bell added an insurance run later in the inning. She reached second on a double, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
Lady Chaps starter Courtney McGee finished off strong with retiring Saint Xavier in the top of the seventh inning after a two-out single. She went the distance in the circle to gain the win. The First Team All-Sooner Athletic Conference selection stayed undefeated on the year and moved to 19-0 with six strikeouts.
“We have been used to her (McGee) throwing well all year – she kind of had a hard time on Saturday,” said Lubbock Christian head coach Daren Hays. “That was the most encouraging thing was to see her come back (today). She never showed any emotion (during the 2-run second inning) and showed her mound presence. That is a good team and if she would have lost her composure, they could have put the game out of reach.”
The Cougars took a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning. Shannon Lauret led off with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. After two strikeouts were recorded by McGee, Amanda Hainlen drove in Lauret on a single up the middle. After an error by the first baseman, Katie Houlihan singled to plate Hainlen.
Those runs seemed to be plenty for Nonnemacher, who had a 1.74 ERA on the season. But, the Lady Chaps’ offense came alive in the sixth to keep the team moving on in the championship.
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.