Raquel Hawkins went three-for-four from the plate and produced three runs-batted-in to lead the No. 9 Lubbock Christian University Lady Chaparrals to a 5-3 win in their first ever game in the NAIA Softball Championships and their opening pool play contest against Friends University. The loss ended the Lady Falcons 32-game winning streak.
The Lady Chaps started their offense early, with Hawkins scoring Honda Rodriguez on a single after Rodriguez had reached on a one-out double in the top of the first inning. Gabby Woody made it 2-0 one out later with a single that scored Ginalee Davis from second base. Friends matched the Lady Chaps top half of the first by tying the score with a crazy home run by Megan Vinzant. The ball was hit to Sabrina Hernandez in left field and she initially made the catch, but momentum took her over the portable fences and she dropped the ball to rule the result a two-run home run.
Hawkins hit her first postseason home run and her first homer since April 24th with a two-run blast for a 4-2 lead in the third inning. The home run was the 14th of the season for the Region VI Player of the Year. LCU added to their lead in the fourth inning with an error by right fielder Casey Jenson on a fly ball from Hernandez with two outs allowing Jade Espinoza to score from first base.
Trailing 5-2, the Lady Falcons tried to rally back. A Casey Jenson two-out single scored Vinzant to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Vinzant would get another at-bat with two runners on base in the seventh inning with two outs, but a ground ball to Hawkins at shortstop would end the rally and the game.
Marissa Gonzalez improved to 33-8 on the season. She pitched all seven innings for the Lady Chaps and allowed seven hits, tying a season high, but she produced 10 strikeouts to surpass the 300-plateau this season (305). It was the first time she had at least ten strikeouts in her last seven starts. Brandi Leeker pitched seven innings for Friends and allowed three earned runs off of six hits, as her record fell to 14-5.
Lubbock Christian University continues pool play at 8 p.m. tonight, as they face College of Idaho (27-18), who lost earlier in the day to Trevecca Nazarene 2-1. Tonight's game will air on KFYO 790 AM and will simulcast online on LCUchaps.com and TSRNsports.com. LCU improves to 52-9 with the win and they are 1-0 in Pool D of the championship tournament.