DECATUR, Ala. (May 18, 2009) - There will be a new title holder at this season's NAIA Softball National Championship. Defending champion Lubbock Christian University went scoreless over the final 16 innings and lost 2-0 to No.7 St. Gregory's University and 1-0 to No.6 Oklahoma City Monday afternoon at the elite-eight double elimination tournament. The losses bring their season to an end at 53-7.
Both games were pitching duals, and it started with LCU's Alyssa Gutierrez and the NAIA's career strikeout leader, St. Gregory's Sharon Bell.
Bell struck out 15 LCU batters in the win. The Lady Chaps were unable to get a runner on third base at any point in the game, and just could not get a hit with runners in scoring position. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and seven runners were left stranded.
Alyssa Gutierrez was matching Bell by keeping the Lady Cavaliers from scoring until the top of the seventh inning. A Mel Dwight leadoff single and walk to Bell in the top of the inning led to Kelly Griego taking over for Gutierrez. A single up the middle with one out loaded the bases and Kyra Hart was able to get the Lady Cavs their first run with a sacrifice fly to left field. A wild pitch allowed an additional run to score.
LCU was able to get two aboard in the bottom half of the inning, but Bell struck out Raquel Hawkins for a third time in the game to seal the SGU win.
Griego started in the circle in the second game and she went head to head against OCU's Lilly LaVelle. The two teams combined for only six hits. LaVelle held the Lady Chaps to two hits and Griego limited the Stars to four hits.
Oklahoma City only run was scored on a combination of two of three errors committed by LCU in the game. In the third inning, Mindy Crabaugh reached on a dropped fly ball to centerfield and eventually scored from third on a infield throwing error.
Lubbock Christian was only able to get one at bat with a runner in scoring position in the game. Catcher Erin Slettvet threw out two of the three LCU baserunners in the game.
LCU batters struck out 23 times on the day (of 51 at-bats). An unfortunate ending for the second-year program that will say "good bye" to seven seniors. All seven were members of last season's championship team. Ginalee Davis, Jade Espinoza, Kelly Griego, Raquel Hawkins, Sabrina Hernandez, Honda Rodriguez and Lisa Stratton played their final game as members of the Lady Chaps. Nicole Clark, Alyssa Gutierrez, Clarissa Maldonado, and Amanda Parsons are the only players returning with significant playing experience.