May 25, 2010
Decatur, Ala. - Shorter College's dream run through the NAIA Softball Championships will continue.
Fueled by another late rally and yet another quality outing on the rubber by Libby Munson, the No. 10-ranked Lady Hawks outlasted No. 17-ranked Trevecca Nazarene University 3-1 in the first round of bracket play at the 2010 NAIA Softball National Championship in Decatur, Ala.
Shorter (51-14) advances into the semifinal round of the winner's bracket and will take on Simon Fraser (B.C.) tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25 at noon CDT at the Wilson Morgan Softball Complex. The Clan advanced with a 4-2 win over Belhaven on Monday night.
Trevecca (44-16) drops into the consolation bracket and will play in an elimination game at noon tomorrow.
Senior Tiffany Adams went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI for the Lady Hawks, who once again stayed true to formula of great pitching and timely hitting to improve to 4-0 for the championships.
Adams' RBI double down the left field line in the third allowed Shorter to jump out to an early 1-0 lead. The Cecil, Ala., native, who leads the Lady Hawks in batting average and was the SSAC's Gold Glove winner for outfielders, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh that gave Shorter a two-run cushion at 3-1.
Munson, who is now 4-0 at this year's tournament, was again the story in the circle for the Lady Hawks.
The junior scattered five hits and struck out five in seven complete. The only blemish on Munson's line came in the bottom of the fourth, when Lauren Baker's chopper to third with two outs took a nasty hop on Shorter third baseman Elisabeth Barber and rolled into left field, allowing Breanna Zeis to score and tie the game at one.
Munson worked around trouble early to set the tone for another solid effort. She registered a pair of strikeouts to snuff out Trevecca's bid with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the first and then worked out of a two-on, one-out scenario in the third by fanning Megan Hemmingson and forcing Karli Rush to line out to center.
A brilliant 1-6-3 double play in the sixth by the Lady Hawks' defense halted another potential Trojan rally.
After Shorter had taken a 2-1 lead in the top half of the sixth inning, Monica West singled to lead off the Trevecca half of the frame. Trevecca's Anais Puertas then grounded back to Munson, who whipped a laser to Hannah Strength sliding over to cover second for the force.
Strength, a first team All-SSAC shortstop, corralled the Munson delivery that was a bit behind her then gathered her feet to deliver a strike to Kara Pollock at first to nab Puertas and foil Trevecca's last real threat at a run.
Shorter again got a major offensive contribution from an unexpected source at a pivotal point of the game.
With the score tied at one, Munson led off the Shorter sixth with a base hit to left and then advanced to second on Barber's sacrifice bunt. With Chelsea Blair in to pinch run for Munson, sophomore Emily Clements came to the dish, having gone 1-for-8 up until that point in the tournament.
Clements, who entered tournament play as the team's leader in RBI, muscled a single towards second base and forced a harried throw from Puertas. The errant delivery to first allowed Blair to score from second, putting the Lady Hawks ahead to stay.
The Lady Hawks out-hit the Trojans 7-5 on the evening, getting a 2-for-3 effort from Clements in the process. Each team left six runners on base.
Trevecca, the TranSouth Conference champion, advanced to bracket play after scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to stun No. 2-ranked Lee University 7-6 earlier in the day and finish first in Pool B.
But the Trojans ran into a team on a mission in Shorter, which, while making its fourth straight appearance in the NAIA National Championship, has never advanced this far into tournament competition, and will be vying for a spot in the Final Four with a win tomorrow afternoon.