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Softball - Wed, May. 29, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ga. (May 29, 2013) – No.2 Lubbock Christian University reached a program single season mark in wins with 61 in a 2-1 win over No.6 Williams Baptist College, but they would be unable to get win 62, as the Lady Chaparrals matched a program record stranding 14 runners and they fell 4-2 to Spring Hill College. The loss, including five outs resulting from batting out of the batter's box, was a tough way to be eliminated at the final site of the NAIA Softball National Championship, where the Lady Chaps finished in third place.

SHC took the opening lead of the second game in the second inning with a two-run home run by Taylor Lahasky, which was a long hit over the left field fence for her fourth home run of the season and the second of the year against LCU starting pitcher Katera Eltsosie. Megan Sullivan produced a double to score McKenzie Clemmons in the bottom of the third inning and Eltsosie produced an RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 2-2. LCU was full of missed chances in the game and those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Lady Chaps in the top of the seventh inning. Shea Blanchard singled to centerfield to score a run and then a busted infield single by Mariha Portman led to a second run and a 4-2 lead.

LCU had an opportunity to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two on base, including the tying run at second base, Faith Koria was called out on a foul ball for an illegally batted ball, as home plate umpire Casey Opsal ruled Koria had stepped out of the batter's box. It was the fourth time he had made the ruling against a Lady Chaps batter. Mallory Koschany, who had the infraction called against her twice in the game, came up as LCU's last hope, but she grounded out to first base and the game came to a close.

The Lady Chaparrals stranded 14 runners for the first time since Apr. 21, 2012, which matched a program high. LCU was 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position, while SHC was 2-for-4 in the situation. LCU produced 10 hits in the game, which was the most allowed by Badgers pitcher Caroline Sagrera. Clemmons was 3-for-4 to lead LCU at the plate. Raleigh Downs was 3-for-3 for SHC. Sagrera improved to 39-10 with the win and allowed one earned run off 10 hits and struck out seven batters. Katera Eltsosie suffered the loss for LCU and fell to 28-7. She allowed four earned runs off seven hits in seven innings pitched. She struck out 11 batters to match a season and career high.

In the opener, LCU was able to get both of their runs in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. With two outs, Diana De La Paz lifted a fly ball to left field and the left fielder lost it in the sun resulting in an RBI-double. Courtney McGee helped her own cause on the ensuing at-bat by singling up the middle to complete the LCU scoring. The two runs was enough, as McGee was able to escape several jams. In the top of the fifth inning, catcher Rebecca Billings had all three put-outs, including chasing down a pitch that slipped to the backstop and was able to tag out Callie Brooks trying to advance from third base. The lone run for the Eagles came in the top of the seventh inning with a run scoring on a wild pitch.

The wild pitch was the only blemish on McGee. She went seven innings and allowed one run on four hits and struck out four batters. McGee moved to 21-0 on the season. Karisa Hendrix dropped to 25-7, as she did not allow an earned run through six innings and allowed five hits. The teams combined to go 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position, as WBC was 1-for-13 and LCU was 2-for-10. WBC was also 0-for-6 when up with two outs.

It seemed as if LCU was being targeted during the tournament. They were called for an illegally batted ball five times on the day. Koschany was called for it in the opener and twice in the second game. She was also called for it in an earlier tournament game. LCU had not had a batter called for it during the season prior to the tournament.

LCU ends their season 61-10, with the 61 wins marking a new program record. They won 60 in 2008. The loss brings a close to the end of the careers of LCU seniors McKenzie Clemmons, Latainna Eltsosie and Stephanie Rendon. The contest was the final game for LCU in the NAIA and it also marks LCU's final athletic event under the NAIA label. LCU moves into the NCAA Div. II's Heartland Conference next season.