LUBBOCK, Texas (May 15, 2013) – Stephanie Rendon's grand slam in the third inning of the second game allowed the Lubbock Christian University faithful in attendance at PlainsCapital Park to exhale Wednesday afternoon. No.2 Lubbock Christian University nearly had their hopes of heading to Columbus, Ga. busted after No.24 University of Houston-Victoria (Texas) ended LCU's 34-game home win streak with a 5-1 win, but LCU responded in the winner-take-all championship game of the Lubbock Christian Bracket with Rendon hitting a grand slam to erase a 2-0 deficit and leading the Lady Chaparrals to an 8-3 win to win the bracket and join nine additional teams at the final site of the NAIA Softball National Championship double elimination tournament.
UHV started the second game right where they left off the first game. In the bottom of the first inning, Marley Moehrig hit a long drive to left field for a two-run home run and a 2-0 lead. LCU's bats, which had been held to one run off just four hits through nine innings of play prior to the third inning of the second game, finally came alive in the top of the third inning. With the bases loaded, Megan Sullivan was hit by a pitch to plate their first run and Latainna Eltsosie sent a high fly ball to shallow centerfield, which landed harmlessly between a trio of defenders to tie the game 2-2. With the bases still loaded, Rendon smacked a grand slam to left field for her sixth home run of the season and for a 6-2 lead. It was her second career grand slam and it was the team's second slam of the season (second in as many days).
The Jaguars came back in the bottom of the fifth inning. LCU starting pitcher Courtney McGee ran out of gas and walked three batters following a lead-off dropped third strike wild pitch allowing Alex Holland to reach. The bases loaded walk cut the LCU lead to 6-3. McGee was replaced by Katera Eltsosie, who came in and struck out the next two batters to force the Jaguars into stranding three runners. LCU responded getting the run back in the top of the sixth inning with Kirstie Cochran hitting a triple to right-centerfield to take a 7-3 lead. UHV had a rally building in the sixth inning. Krissa Powell hit an infield single, beating McGee, who was the firstbaseman, to the bag to load the bases, and Holland rounded third base and tried to sneak home on the play. McGee threw home and Latainna Eltsosie tagged her out to end the threat. A wild pitch led to an LCU insurance run in the top of the seventh inning.
Along with Rendon's heroics, LCU also received solid offensive work from Cochran, who was 3-for-3 with a RBI. McGee, who pitched 4.1 innings for LCU, improved to 18-0 with the win and allowed three runs off three hits. Her trio of walks in the fifth inning were her only walks in the game, as she struck out seven batters. Katera Eltsosie pitched the final 2.2 innings, striking out five batters and allowing three hits in scoreless relief to claim her third save of the season. Dawn Villegas, who was solid in the opening game, suffered the loss (13-8) and allowed six earned runs off seven hits in 3.1 innings pitched. Holland was 2-for-3 in the losing cause for UHV.
In the opener, LCU scored their lone run of the game early, as Megan Sullivan hit her 10th home run of the season and her second of the tournament. It was a two-out solo home run over the right-centerfield fence for a 1-0 lead. The Jaguars took the lead in the bottom of the second inning with Holland producing her seventh hit of the tournament on a RBI-single to right field and Kristina Droz following with a sacrifice fly on a foul-out to left field for a 2-1 advantage. They added to the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with Holland hitting a two-run home run beyond the centerfield fence for a 4-1 lead. Also hitting her third home run of the tournament was Ashley Shannon, who hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning well beyond the right-centerfield fence for her 11th home run of the season and increasing the lead to 5-1. The Lady Chaps loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh inning to bring up the tying run in McKenzie Clemmons, but Clemmons lined out to the pitcher Villegas, who was able to double-up Ashton Bell at third base to end the game.
Villegas was able to hold LCU to three hits in the opener. She held LCU to one run over seven innings pitched to improve to 13-7. Katera Eltsosie allowed five runs off six hits in four innings pitched, falling to 28-5 on the season. The five earned runs allowed by Eltsosie was a season high. Holland led UHV at the plate going 2-for-3 with three RBI.
UHV had their season end at 32-22 with the loss. They went 3-2 at the tournament and was led by Holland, who hit .590, going 10-for-17 from the plate with three home runs and 8 RBI in their five tourney games.
LCU has their record go to 58-8 with the split of games and the games were the final NAIA associated events on the LCU campus. The Lady Chaps were led in the bracket by Sullivan, who went 6-for-12 with two homers and five RBI. Rendon led LCU with six runs-batted-in.
The Lady Chaps, who have appeared in the NAIA National Championships in all six seasons of their existence, will head to the final site (Columbus, Ga.) for the first time under the NAIA's new format. The NAIA will announce the final site pairings after the completion of Wednesday's play at the ten Opening Round host sites. LCU is expected to be a No.2-seed, which would result in an opening round bye and place their first game at 3 p.m. (Central) on Saturday, May 25.