The #1 Concordia Eagles hadn't grinded one out in a while, but they were up the challenge on Tuesday afternoon, May 14, with a 1-0 win over College of Idaho in the Semifinals at the NAIA Opening Round Concordia (Calif.) Bracket at Eagles Field in Irvine, CA.
(Opening Round Schedule) The inaugural NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round began Monday with 10 tournaments playing out. A total of 40 teams will participate in the double-elimination format with four teams at a different location. Sixteen programs return that participated in the 2012 Softball National Championship.
Ranked No. 1 in each of the past eight Coaches' Top 25 polls, No. 1 seed Concordia (Calif.) plays host to No. 2 St. Gregory's, No. 3 College of Idaho and No. 4 Bethany (Kan.). Concordia is playing in the championship for the fourth time in the last five years.
Concordia ace Katie Cotta threw her NAIA-record 10th no-hitter of the year and she is currently two short of tying Rachel Murray's career record of 16. She struck out 15, two short of her single-game record, and was a seventh-inning walk short of a perfect game. Catcher Emily Craig hit a solo shot on top of the Concordia cages in left field in the sixth inning, her 11th of the year and second of the tournament, for CU's only run. Concordia had five hits and left six on base. College of Idaho starter Nickayla Skinner was very good, allowing only five hits and the one run.
Each of the Opening Round winners will advance to the NAIA Softball National Championship final site in Columbus, Ga., May 24 – 30. The format in Columbus is a double-elimination, 10-team event on a single championship field. The bracket will be officially announced May 15 (late in the day).
Chanele Dresser singled with one out in the first and went to second after a hit batter. A pop out to shortstop ended the inning. Dresser reached on an error with two out in the third, but a strikeout ended that threat. Bryana Simpson laid down a bunt single to start the fifth, was sacrificed to second, and moved to third on a groundout. A strikeout again doused the threat.
After two swinging strikeouts to start the sixth, Craig caught a 2-0 changeup and launched it into left field. Cotta walked a batter with one out in the seventh, forced a pop out and struck the final batter out looking to go to 22-2 on the year and lower her ERA to the nation's best 0.14.
Concordia awaits in the Opening Round Championship tomorrow at 12 pm. Whomever they play must beat the Eagles twice. Watch the live stream at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/cui.portal#. College of Idaho fell to 35-22 and will play again at 3:30 pm in Loser Out action.