COLUMBUS, Ga. – A solo home run by senior second baseman Shainna Groom in the sixth inning propelled No. 1-seed Concordia (Calif.) to a 7-6 victory over No. 8-seed Reinhardt (Ga.) in a winners bracket game at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Saturday. That run broke a 6-all tie in the sixth inning.
The go-ahead run eclipsed a furious six-run rally by Reinhardt (44-8) as the Eagles entered the fifth inning with no runs and no base hits. In the center circle for Concordia (49-3) was senior pitcher Katie Cotta, who prior to the game allowed only three earned runs in 150 innings of work for a microscopic 0.14 ERA. Cotta managed to survive the rally and went on to post her 24th victory of the season. The Stockton, Calif., native walked one batter and allowed four hits, while striking out 15 batters. It was the first earned runs that Cotta allowed since March 30.
"I felt like we let them stay in the game where we had some chances to make it out of their reach," said Concordia head coach Crystal Rosenthal. "I am so proud of my team's resiliency after coming back after a rough inning. That is what you have to do at this part of the season – keep pushing."
On the offensive end, Groom hit her 11th bomb of the year, second best on the team. Jorgenson hit her second triple of the season and had two hits on the game. Bryana Simpson led the squad with three hits. The Eagles scored seven runs on 12 hits, while the RU Eagleas had four hits, and Cotta walked one and hit two.
Caitrin Debaun led off the game with a single to right center, and Chanele Dresser and Jorgenson both followed with bunt singles to load the bags with no out. After two pop outs, Annette Merjano was hit by a pitch to make it 1-0. Cotta struck out five of the first six batters to make it 1-0 through two. Concordia's offense went quiet and Cotta worked around a hit batter in the third.
Emily Craig walked to start fourth and Merjano followed with a single up the middle. Simpson singled to left center to plate one. Morgan Reiter bunted to reach and after two outs, Jorgenson emptied the bags with a triple off the left field wall to make it 6-0 Eagles. Cotta struck out the side in the fourth and Simpson singled to center to lead off the fourth. After a walk, a groundout moved both runners. The Eagles stranded both runners. RU led off the fifth with a double and single. A hit batter and walk scored one. A single scored two more and another single made it 5-6. After a wild pitch sent a runner to third, a foul ball let the runner tag and tie the game.
A groundout started the top of the sixth, but Groom took a 1-0 pitch over the center field fence for the 7-6 lead. Cotta put them down 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh with four K's. (Box Score)
Concordia will advance in the winner's bracket of the double-elimination event and will play No. 4 seed Oklahoma City Monday at 1 pm PST. The Lady Eagles drop to the loser's bracket and will face fellow Southern States Athletic Conference foe No. 7 seed Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in an elimination game Monday at 10 a.m. PST.
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.
(Bracket | Live Video) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced the official seeds and bracket for the 2013 Softball National Championship final site. The 10-team event takes place from May 24 – 30 at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga. The facility was home to the 1998 Summer Olympic Games.
The National Championship is a double-elimination tournament with the winner being crowned May 30. There will up to 19 games played during a seven-day span on one championship stadium field. This format is a first in the 33-year history of the event. Most recently from 2005-12, the championship format included pool play and pool play champions advanced to double-elimination action. For ticket information, click here.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 18 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all 19 games. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-Championship pass is available for $29.95.
For more information on the national championship, click here.