COLUMBUS, Ga. – Katie Cotta rebounded from her roughest outing to pitch her 16th season shutout and lift top seeded Concordia (Calif.) to an 8-0, six inning run-rule victory over No. 4 Oklahoma City at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship final site at the South Commons Softball Complex on Monday. In the 7-6 win Saturday against Reinhardt (Ga.), Cotta allowed her first earned runs since March 30.
"My rise (ball) and changeup were working today," said Cotta. "My team came out and hit the ball and had my back. It was really nice to come out and be the team that we are used to being back at home."
Concordia remains in the winner's bracket and is scheduled to play the winner of No. 6 Williams Baptist (Ark.) and No. 10 Spring Hill (Ala.) Tuesday at 4 p.m. PST. Oklahoma City next takes on Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) foe No. 2 Lubbock Christian (Texas) Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the loser's bracket.
The Eagles put the game out of reach in the fifth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Emily Craig reached on a hit-by-pitch, which forced home Chanele Dresser. On the next pitch, Annette Merjano took a 0-0 offering from Oklahoma City pitcher Danielle Fox and hit her first career grand slam. At that point, the lead was too much for Oklahoma City to overcome against one of the best pitchers in the NAIA.
Cotta, who moves to 25-2 on the year, struck out seven Stars, walked one and allowed just two hits. After giving up a lead-off single, Cotta retired 13-straight batters to take control. This game got the 2012 NAIA All-American back on track. She had gone 10-straight appearances (55.0 innings) without allowing an earned run before the outing Saturday. Today, she was in attack mode and held the NAIA's No. 1 hitting team, in terms of total runs, off the scoreboard, bring her ERA back to 0.39.
Concordia's offense was on fire with nine hits for eight runs, while only stranding six runners on base. On the other side Cotta stranded four. Hannah Howell hit her eighth home run of the year and Merjano's first career grand slam was her ninth bomb of the season. Offensively, Debaun had two singles and Jorgenson matched that with two RBI to boot.
Oklahoma City led off the first with a single and stole with no outs. Cotta struck one out, the runner advanced on a groundout, and the inning ended on a line drive right at Chanele Dresser in left field. Jorgenson walked with two out in the bottom half, stole second, but was left stranded. Cotta set them down 1-2-3 with three strikeouts in the second and third. Emily Craig singled to start the second, was sacrificed to second, but was left there.
Hannah Howell homered over the left field fence to lead off the third and give Concordia the 1-0 lead. Caitrin Debaun followed with a single, and was sacrificed to second. Jorgenson dropped a blooper down the right field line to make it 2-0. Cotta cruised through the fourth and Concordia left a runner on second in the bottom.
A hit batter and wild pitch put a runner on second for Oklahoma City in the fifth, but Cotta forced a sharp groundout to second to end the inning. Dresser singled to the pitcher with one out in the fifth and Jorgenson walked. Groom singled to left center to load the bags. One run scored when Emily Craig was hit. Merjano took the first pitch deep over the left field fence to clear the bags on her first career grand slam and make it 7-0 Concordia. Oklahoma City led off the sixth with a single and walk. Cotta forced a popout, groundout, and popout for her 16th shutout of the year. Debaun started the sixth with a single and went to second on a throwing error by the pitcher. She moved to third on a groundout and Jorgenson ended the game with a single off the left field wall.
"I stuck to my game plan," said Cotta. "I had to win every pitch and if I took a pitch off, then I would be in the same situation last game and that was unacceptable."
Jamie Rateliff, who started in the circle for the Stars, was hit with the loss to fall to 23-5 on the year. She went 2.1 innings and gave up two runs on three hits.
For the Eagles it was their 34th shutout of the year and second-straight 50-win season.
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.