Provided by LCU Athletics:
As if hitting a grand slam in the championship game of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round to help No.2 Lubbock Christian University punch their ticket to the final site wasn't enough, Stephanie Rendon hit a two-out two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the Lady Chaparrals to a 4-2 win over No.9 seed St. Xavier University. Rendon's home run, which overshadowed outstanding pitching performances from LCU's Courtney McGee and SXU's Nicole Nonnemacher, helped LCU advance to a noon (Central) first pitch Tuesday against either Concordia (Calif.) or Oklahoma City University in an elimination contest.
Nonnemacher was holding the Lady Chaps hitless through five innings, not allowing a hit to her first 18 batters faced. LCU's first hit was produced by Mallory Koschany, who ended a season-high 0-for-9 stretch with a hit up the middle leading off the bottom of the sixth inning. With LCU trailing 2-0, she advanced into scoring position with her NAIA leading 70th stolen base of the season. McKenzie Clemmons popped up a bunt on a sacrifice attempt and Megan Sullivan was caught looking on a 3-2 pitch to quickly post two outs in the innings. Latainna Eltsosie was able to put LCU on the scoreboard with a screaming liner down the third base line, which deflected off the third baseman's glove and into the left field foul area resulting in a double and allowing Kohschany to reach home. Rendon followed and provided the heroics by hitting a 2-2 pitch beyond the reach of Cougars left fielder Holly Hilden, who crashed through the temporary fencing in attempt to chase down Rendon's seventh home run of the season. The home run provided LCU a 3-2 lead but they were not done. Ashton Bell followed with a one-hopper to the centerfield fence for a double and would eventually score on a wild pitch and passed ball during Diana De La Paz's at-bat. All four runs and all four hits produced in the game by the Lady Chaps came in the sixth inning. The multi-run inning was their first inning of more than one run over the last 14 innings played for LCU, who had a stretch of just two innings of more than one run scored over their prior 30 innings played leading into the sixth inning.
The Cougars took advantage of a passed ball and an error by first baseman Eltsosie with a pair of two-out singles to score the first runs of the game in the second inning. Amanda Hainlen and Katie Houlihan each singled to drive in a run for the 2-0 SXU lead. McGee did her part holding the Cougars to the 2-0 lead and providing a chance for a late rally. She retired nine consecutive batters from the fifth through seventh innings. A two-out single brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh inning, but a fly ball caught by Clemmons in centerfield clinched LCU's first ever win in Georgia.
McGee is now 19-0 with the win and she struck out six batters in seven innings pitched. She did not allow an earned run off four hits. Nonnemacher has her season end with a 24-5 mark. She struck out five batters and allowed four runs off four hits in six innings.
SXU ends their season with a 50-9 record. LCU gains their 59th win (59-9) of the season and they are one win away from their single-season program record wins mark of 60 set their inaugural championship season in 2008. They will go after that win Tuesday at noon (Central) at South Commons Softball Complex.