HOUSTON-VICTORIA RALLIES LATE AGAIN...ELIMINATES FRIENDS TO FACE LCU
LUBBOCK, Texas (May 14, 2013) – No.24 University of Houston-Victoria (Texas) scored five unanswered runs to erase a 7-4 deficit in the sixth inning and the Jaguars rallied for a 9-7 victory to eliminate No.23 Friends University (Kan.) and advance to Wednesday's Lubbock Christian Bracket championship game of the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship, where they will face host No.2 Lubbock Christian University.
Friends opened the scoring with a three-run first inning, with doubles from Courtney Kifer and Christina Downs leading to the runs. UHV responded in the top of the second inning with a four-run inning. The Jaguars produced six hits during the inning, with a double by Casey Sax serving as the only extra-base hit of the six hits.
The Falcons hit a snag of controversy in the bottom of the second inning, as Kelsee Farmer initially reached base to load the bases with two outs and the game tied 4-4. UHV head coach Keri Lambeth appealed to the home plate umpire that Holland's jersey number was incorrect on the lineup card. Indeed, Friends head coach Tony Segovia had duplicated a jersey number in the official lineups exchanged with tournament officials resulting in Farmer being called out and the inning coming to an end.
Kifer hit a single to centerfield resulting in a RBI and the Falcons took a 5-4 lead in the third inning. They added to it in the fifth inning with Michelle Teo hitting a RBI-double and eventually scoring on a single from Downs to increase the lead to 7-4.
UHV mounted their rally in the top of the sixth inning. They produced four runs in the inning, taking the lead on a three-run home run by Alex Holland for her fifth home run of the season. The home run to left-centerfield provided UHV an 8-7 lead. Ashley Shannon provided UHV an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning with a solo blast to straight-away centerfield for her 10th homer of the season and a 9-7 lead.
Each team had opportunities to add to the combined 16 runs, as both teams stranded 11 runners on base. UHV's Jena West was 4-for-5 from the plate and produced a pair of RBI. Holland (2-for-4) drove in three runs and Shannon (2-for-4) drove in a pair to add to the UHV offense. Kifer (2-for-4) and Downs (2-for-5) each had a pair of hits to lead Friends in the losing cause. Alex Holland pitched to all but the first six batters in the first inning and went 6.2 innings for the win in relief. She improved to 9-3 and allowed four runs off seven hits in her appearance. Kelsey Garner suffered the loss for Friends. She finishes the season 25-2, with both losses coming Tuesday (fell in the opening game of the day against Lubbock Christian). In 5.1 innings, Garner allowed five runs off six hits.
Friends ends their season with a 43-8 record with the loss. UHV improves to 31-21 with the win and advances to play LCU Wednesday at 1 p.m. The Jaguars must defeat LCU twice to advance to Columbus, Ga. and the final site, where ten teams will battle for the NAIA title. LCU only has to win once after coming out of the winner's bracket with wins over Northwood (Texas) and Friends.