Brandi Richards tossed three no-hit innings and drove in the game-winning run in AUM's NAIA Tournament debut.
Softball - Thu. May. 17, 2012
GULF SHORES, Ala. ----- Brandi Richards and Cassie Daniels combined to hold one of the top offenses in the country to just one hit, as the Auburn University at Montgomery softball team earned the first NAIA Softball National Championship victory in the program's young history Thursday, with a 1-0 defeat of No. 9 Olivet Nazarene at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
The Warhawks (39-18), now 1-0 in pool play, advance to take on No. 8 Azusa Pacific Friday at 11:30 a.m. The Tigers (53-8) will face William Penn (Iowa) tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.
"I think we came out a little hesitant, but out pitchers stepped up and our defense was outstanding today," head coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson said. "I thought we hit the ball well and found a way to come up with a big one when we needed it. I hope we can carry this momentum over into tomorrow, when we face another very good team in Azusa Pacific."
Strength against strength, AUM entered pool play with the best team earned run average, 1.49, in Pool H, while the Tigers had a .344 team average and 562 hits on the year. The Warhawks pitching duo rose to the occasion, as only a fourth inning single by Cheryl Sendzik prevented the combined no-hitter.
Richards, who was battling a stomach ailment during the contest, tossed the opening three frames, allowing only two base runners, one walk and one hit by pitch, while striking out three. Daniels (13-7) earned the win with four one-hit innings of relief, striking out two and walking just one.
The Warhawks pounded out six hits on the afternoon, including two by Richards. The second proved to be the most valuable, a RBI double in the sixth inning. Jyssica Pepper, who led off the frame with a double of her own, scored the game's lone run.
Olivet Nazarene had its best scoring opportunity of the game in the fourth inning, as Daniels hit the leadoff batter, who later moved to second on a groundout. However, Richards again played a key role in the victory with a critical outfield assist, throwing out Hannah Gardner at home on the Sendzik hit.
Katie Hannagan, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, took the loss, falling to 22-4 on the season. Hannagan allowed four hits, while striking out four.
In the historic game, Katie Spain inked her name in the record book with the first hit in tournament play, with a second inning triple. Danielle Kirkpatrick recorded the first stolen base.