Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.) holds the No. 1 position in the first regular season edition of the 2014 NAIA Softball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, announced by the national office Tuesday. The Eagles, who were also atop the Preseason Coaches' Poll, hold the No. 1 spot for the 11th-straight poll after starting the season with a 25-3 record.
With 13-of-the-20 first-place votes, Concordia posted 554 total points. The Eagles have now been ranked in the top 10 in each of the last 22 polls.
Biola (Calif.) moved into the rankings for the first time since March 29, 2011, after not receiving votes in the preseason poll, to mark one of the other significant moves of the week. The 11-straight No. 1 rankings for Concordia (Calif.) is the longest stretch for any program since former member California Baptist rattled through 24-consecutive polls from 2009 – 11. No. 1 Concordia (Calif.) has now held the No. 1 position in 16 of the last 18 polls dating back to the 2012 season.
The No. 1 Eagles welcomed the No. 12 Eagles with 3-0 and 4-2 wins at Concordia on Tuesday afternoon, March 18, thanks to two Annette Merjano (SR/Auburn, CA) home runs and a win and save from Brittani McGue (JR/Modesto, CA).
In game one GSAC Pitcher of the Week Brittani McGue was outstanding, allowing just three hits over seven innings. She struck out five and only allowed six base runners to lead the nation at 15-0. Annette Merjano hit her eighth home run of the year, a two-run shot, and Rachel Prentice (SR/Upland, CA) doubled. The Eagles had five hits as a team.
Caitrin Debaun (SR/Garden Grove, CA) singled to lead off the game and moved to third on an error. She scored on Emily Craig (SR/Long Beach, CA)'s fielder's choice. Biola got two on with no out in the second, but a lineout and strike out ended the threat. Biola left a runner on second in the fourth and Concordia did the same in the fifth. Craig singled through the right side with one out in the sixth, and Merjano followed with a bomb. McGue worked around a walk in the seventh.
In game two Stevie Goldstein (JR/Garden Grove, CA) earned the win for Concordia, allowing just two runs over five and a third innings, with two strikeouts, as McGue finished the game hitless to earn her third save of the year, while Goldstein went to 8-1. Merjano homered again and led the team with two hits.
Biola took advantage of a leadoff walk with an RBI-single in the first, but after Hannah Howell (SO/Citrus Heights, CA) singled and Craig walked, Merjano left one over the left field fence for the 3-1 lead. Concordia left two runners on in the second and got out of the third with a double play. Both teams went quiet until the fifth, when an error to start the inning led to a run scoring on a wild pitch for Concordia. Biola loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and McGue came in to get a groundout and strikeout, with one run scoring in the process.
Concordia moved to the top of the GSAC at 29-3 and 7-1 in conference, going to 4-0 against ranked opponents this season and 52-28 all-time against Biola. Biola dropped to 22-6 and 5-3 in conference, two games behind Concordia. Concordia will travel to former GSAC foe Azusa Pacific for a 4:00 pm doubleheader on Thursday, March 20.