COLUMBUS, Ga. -- An offensive explosion in the bottom of the fourth inning was the difference-maker as No. 1 seed Concordia (Calif.) defeated No. 10 seed Spring Hill (Ala.), 8-3, at the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship finale at the South Commons Softball Complex on Thursday. This was the first NAIA Softball National Championship for the Eagles and the 44th NAIA championship won by a GSAC team.
The two teams were tied at two runs each going into the bottom of the fourth before two batters were hit by pitches and two others were walked, resulting in five runs for Concordia.
Spring Hill's freshman pitcher Caroline Sagrera struck Concordia's Emily Craig, then Annette Merjano hit a sacrifice bunt to advance pinch runner Rachel Prentice. Bryana Simpson was hit by a pitch and Morgan Reiter reached base on a walk. When Hannah Howell doubled down the left field line, Prentice, Simpson and Reiter all scored. Then, Caitrin Debaun reached base on a walk and advanced thanks to a Chanele Dresser bunt. When Jenna Jorgenson singled to center, both Howell and Debaun scored to give the Eagles a dominating lead.
Concordia head coach Crystal Rosenthal wasn't worried when her team fell behind 2-0 in the first inning.
"We don't get rattled very easily, and we play all seven innings," Rosenthal said. "Our concept at bat is to get on base any way you can and have a quality at bat. You are not out of the game until the game is over. We looked a little shaky, but (senior pitcher Katie) Cotta kept us in the game, and we figured out a way to swing our bats a little better today."
Spring Hill came back to score one more run in the top of the sixth, but Concordia matched it in the bottom of the sixth, leaving a final score of 8-3. The win was Concordia's first-ever national championship in softball.
"The feeling is awesome," Rosenthal said of the championship title. "It is pure joy for me to experience this with the team. I'm so proud of these girls and so proud of the players from our past that have gotten us to this point."
Concordia senior pitcher Katie Cotta moved to 27-2 and Spring Hill's Sagrera finished 39-11 on the year. The championship's most valuable player, Concordia right fielder Debaun, scored two runs with two hits and one RBI. (For a complete list of the all-championship team, see below.)
Jade Bourgeois was the leading Badger with a 2-for-3 effort from the plate.
The championship is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council. This was the 33rd annual championship and it took place in the state of Georgia for the first time in NAIA softball history.
(Box Score) (Interview Video) (Bracket)
For more information on the national championship, click here.
2013 Softball All-Championship Team
Lindsey Booker, Reinhardt (Ga.), INF
Katie Cotta, Concordia (Calif.), P
Cassie Daniels, Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), P
Caitrin Debaun, Concordia (Calif.), OF
Dominique Hannah, Lee (Tenn.), OF
Karisa Hendrix, Williams Baptist (Ark.), P
Hannah Howell, Concordia (Calif.), INF
Jenna Jorgenson, Concordia (Calif.), INF
Shelbi Legg, Oklahoma City, OF
Courtney McGee, Lubbock Christian (Texas), P
Alex Miller, Cal State San Marcos, INF
Nicole Nonnemacher, Saint Xavier (Ill.), P
Mariha Partman, Spring Hill (Ala.), INF
Caroline Sagrera, Spring Hill (Ala.), P
Megan Sullivan, Lubbock Christian (Texas), INF
Felicia Woodard, Williams Baptist (Ark.), OF
Championship Most Valuable Player: Caitrin Debaun, Concordia (Calif.)
By Kay Hawes, NAIA Director of Marketing and Public Relations