May 25, 2010
Decatur, Ala. - If there had been one negative lingering amidst Shorter College's 4-0 start to the NAIA Softball National Championship, it was the inability to score runs.
That one weakness finally came back to haunt the No. 10-ranked Lady Hawks.
Shorter stranded 13 runners on base and No. 14 Simon Fraser University's Laura Riske managed a two-out, RBI single in the top of the seventh to lead the Clan to a 1-0 victory over the Lady Hawks in the second round of the 2010 NAIA Softball National Championship Tournament.
It was the first loss of the championship for the Lady Hawks (51-15), who loaded the bases in the second and five times left a pair of runners on base.
Shorter will now tangle with defending national champion and No. 1-ranked California Baptist University, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Oklahoma City University last night to fall into the consolation bracket, but defeated Bethel College this afternoon 3-1 to stay alive and earn a date with the Lady Hawks at 2:30 p.m. CDT. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament.
Riske's game-winning hit came after Simon Fraser (26-14) loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh. The Clan was aided by two hit batsmen - both of which came with two outs - before Riske slapped a slow roller perfectly between Elisabeth Barber and Hannah Strength in the hole at short that allowed Jessie Harris to score and put Simon Fraser ahead 1-0.
Shorter had scored the fewest runs of any pool winner with just 10 runs in its four victories over No. 22 MidAmerica Nazarene, Ottawa University, No. 7 Point Loma Nazarene and No. 17 Trevecca Nazarene.
It wasn't for lack of trying - the Lady Hawks stranded eight runners in their win over MidAmerica and six each against Ottawa and Trevecca, but each time was able to find that one clutch hit or play to send them to a victory.
That was not the case against Simon Fraser, a team that had to withstand a 12-inning marathon on Monday against Concordia (Ore.) just to make the elimination round.
Shorter was unable to get the ball out of the infield in each of the six times it left multiple runners on base. The Lady Hawks struck out twice and popped out three times. Their best chance came on a Kara Pollock line out to short in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second and two out.
Lady Hawks' starter Libby Munson put up another great effort, turning in a fifth straight complete game in which she allowed the one run on seven hits while striking out four. The junior, who has now tossed 35 innings in six days, did walk three batters, but worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first and then, with runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, battled back to notch a strikeout and snag a hard hit liner right back to the mound to keep the game knotted at 0-0.
Southern States Athletic Conference Gold Glove outfielder Tiffany Adams preserved a scoreless ballgame in the top of the fifth by gunning down SFU's Chrissy Caviglia at the plate from center field with two outs. Caviglia was attempting to score from second on a Kelsey Haberl base hit up the middle.
Shorter's last chance in the bottom of the seventh featured more of the same offensive frustration that has plagued it throughout the tournament.
Shorter was led offensively by Pollock, who went 2-for-4. Munson threw 109 pitches in a tough, losing effort, the most pitches she has thrown in a game during the tournament.