May 25, 2010
Decatur, Ala. - Sarah Hurlbut went 2-for-2 with an RBI and Melanie Ahumada and Tory Ferreira combined to allow just four hits as No. 1-ranked California Baptist University stayed alive at the 2010 NAIA Softball National Championship with a 3-2 victory over 10th-ranked Shorter College.
With the loss the Lady Hawks (51-16) are eliminated from tournament play. The narrow defeat at the hands of the defending NAIA champion Lancers (63-3) marked the second one-run defeat suffered by Shorter during Tuesday's tournament action - the Lady Hawks fell out of the winner's bracket earlier in the day after falling to Simon Fraser University 1-0.
Shorter, which advanced out of pool play for the first time in program history by going 3-0 in Pool G, once again fell victim to the stranded runner. The Lady Hawks' magical and historic run through the national tournament ends just two rounds short of the championship game.
One game after leaving 13 runners on base against Simon Fraser, the Lady Hawks stranded seven against Cal Baptist.
Shorter left runners on base in all but two innings, consistently putting pressure on the nation's top-ranked team, but ultimately proving unable to find the offensive rhythm that made it the SSAC's No. 2 ranked offense during the regular season.
The Lady Hawks ranked 22nd out of the 32-team tournament field in runs per game for the championship, pushing across 12 runs total in six outings in Decatur.
On the flip side, Shorter proved to be one of the stingiest defenses in the tournament, yielding an average of one run per game entering the contest with Cal Baptist. That statistic ranked first among all tournament teams.
Shorter fell behind 2-0 after the first half inning, but answered right back, using an Elisabeth Barber fielder's choice to plate Charlsie Broome and cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first.
Shorter ended up with runners on first and third with one out in the frame, but could not manage to inflict any more damage, failing to get the ball out of the infield the remainder of the at-bat. Cal Baptist starter Ahumada fanned Kara Pollock and forced Emily Clements to ground out to the pitcher's mound to end the threat and maintain the one-run advantage for her squad.
Clements redeemed herself in the bottom of the third, tying the score at 2-2 with an RBI single to left center that scored Barber, but the Lancers wasted no time in reclaiming the lead, getting a Sarah Strong two-out, RBI single in the top of the fourth to take a 3-2 edge that it would sustain for the duration.
Shorter ace Libby Munson finally wore out after piecing together one of the most memorable national tournament pitching performances in program history.
The junior out of Suwanee threw her team's first 37 innings of the championship, a run that included a no-hitter, two shutouts and four wins.
RBI singles in the first from Caty Reeves and Hurlbut staked Cal Baptist and early lead and foreshadowed an early exit for Munson, a two-time All-American who set a new single-season Shorter record for earned run average this season. Munson, who departed after two innings of work in which she allowed one earned run on two hits, took a no decision against Cal Baptist and finishes the season with a 29-6 record and anemic 0.82 ERA.
Shorter advanced the furthest of any prior Lady Hawks' squad at the national championship. The Lady Hawks were making their fourth straight appearance at the tournament and the 51 wins are most victories in program history.
Carter and the Lady Hawks have won at least 50 games in three of her four seasons at the helm, and Carter now stands five wins away from 200 in her Shorter coaching career.
Barber took the loss on the mound, but was impressive in her final game as a Lady Hawks. The senior tossed the final five innings and allowed just one earned run while scattering seven hits and striking out two.