NAIA winners' bracket finalists a repeat of last year's title game
By Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor
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A couple of teams with a heavy Canadian flavor have advanced to the winners' bracket finals of the NAIA Softball Championships.
One is Simon Fraser of Burnaby, British Columbia, with all of its roster from Canada. The other is Thomas University of Georgia, which has five players from Canada.
DAILY Photos by Gary Cosby Jr.|
A foul ball bounces past North Georgia third baseman Brittany Barnes and chases Simon Fraser baserunner Rachel Schill back to third base during the NAIA softball championships at Wilson Morgan Park on Monday. Simon Fraser won 6-1.
All five are from British Columbia, with four in the starting lineup.
The former Thomas coach established a recruiting base in Canada to bring players to the warm Southern United States, and the current staff has continued the connection.
Simon Fraser and Thomas each won twice Monday to advance to today's 1 p.m. game at Wilson Morgan Park. The winner will play in a championship-round game Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., while the loser drops to the losers' bracket finals Wednesday at 10 a.m.
"Awesome. It's awesome to play Simon Fraser," said Thomas senior Cathy Andrijaszyn, who is from Richmond, British Columbia, and is scheduled to pitch today.
"I want to play them. It will be intense. I know about five or six of their players."
Of the 20 teams originally in the tournament, only six remain, and fifth-seeded Simon Fraser and top-seeded Thomas are the only ones left without a loss in the double-elimination bracket. Also, the two teams each went 4-0 in pool play Friday and Saturday.
In addition, today's game also matches the top two teams in last year's NAIA tournament.
They played three emotional games in 2004. Simon Fraser beat Thomas 4-3 in the winners' bracket finals, but the Night Hawks rebounded for a pair of 5-4 wins in the championship round.
"I think we have a pretty good rivalry after only a year," Clan right fielder Erin Gee said. "We know a lot of their players."
Simon Fraser advanced with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over unseeded Columbia, Mo., on Monday afternoon and a 6-1 victory over unseeded North Georgia on Monday evening. The Clan (36-8) has scored fewer than five runs only once in its six tournament games.
Meanwhile, Thomas beat fourth-seeded Mobile 4-2 and third-seeded California Baptist 5-0. The Night Hawks (45-6) have allowed only five runs in its six tournament contests.
"We're the No. 5 seed. They've been ranked No. 1 all year," Simon Fraser coach Mike Renney said. "We're the underdogs, but we'll give it all we've got."
Both teams plan on pitching their best. Andrijaszyn has started only three of Thomas' six games in the tournament, while her friend from down the street in Richmond, Brianne Sameshima, started the other three.
Thomas coach Vincent Dima said he wanted to make certain Andrijaszyn is rested.
"It's her game from now on," he said.
Ashley Lanz got the win in both of Simon Fraser's wins Monday with nine strikeouts against Columbia and 13 against North Georgia.
For the week, she has five victories and 52 strikeouts, and both figures are NAIA tournament
Renney joked that he's not certain if Lanz will pitch today.
"I'll flip a coin, and Lanz will be both heads and tails," he said.
Winners' bracket No. 1 Thomas (Ga.) 5, No. 3 California Baptist 0: Victoria Masters went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs for Thomas, while Andrijaszyn pitched a four-hitter.
California Baptist pitcher Candice Thomas (31-2) entered the tournament with an ERA of 0.30 and had a streak this season of 87 innings without allowing an earned run.
Against Thomas, she worked four innings and allowed eight hits and two earned runs.
No. 1 Thomas (Ga.) 4, No. 4 Mobile 2: The Night Hawks built a 4-0 lead through three innings and held off the Rams for the victory. Thomas has won six of eight games between the two this season.
Masters slugged a two-run homer to pace Thomas and went 2-for-3, which made her 5-for-6 for the day. Sameshima pitched the first five innings to get the win, but after giving up two runs in the fifth, Andrijaszyn worked the last two innings for the save. No. 5 Simon Fraser 5, Columbia 4: The Clan won with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Gee began the inning by reaching when the third baseman's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. Then Erin McLean followed with a bunt. Columbia pitcher Monica Mueller fielded it and when she overthrew first base into the right-field corner, Renney began waving Gee home.
When the Columbia right fielder misplayed the ball, Renney waved McLean home, too. Both made it well ahead of the throw. "I almost think I should ice my arm after that," Renney said. "I wound up my arm so much on that play, it's a little sore."
Simon Fraser's Rachel Schill went 3-for-4 with three runs and a homer. No. 5 Simon Fraser 6, North Georgia 1: The Clan led the Saints only 2-1 heading into the seventh inning. However, Gee delivered a bases-loaded double to score three runs in the top of the inning. She later scored after stealing third and going home on the catcher's overthrow.
For the two games combined, Gee went 4-for-7 with two runs and four RBIs. Schill went 5-for-7 with five runs. North Georgia 6, No. 2 Houston Baptist 4: The Saints had not won a game at the
NAIA tournament until this year, and now they've won four in this year's championships.
With the score tied 2-2, North Georgia scored four times in the top of the seventh. Annie Ball delivered the big hit with a three-run homer.
Lynsey Thompson went 3-for-4 for North Georgia with three RBIs and a pair of doubles. No. 3 California Baptist 1, No. 7 Science & Arts 0: Shannon Brandt's single drove home Tami Trujillo in the bottom of the eighth to win it for California Baptist.
Thomas pitched a three-hitter and struck out five.
Losers' bracket No. 4 Mobile 3, No. 7 Science & Arts 2: The Rams trailed 2-1 before scoring twice in the top of the fifth.
Rachael West sped home on a wild pitch by Kindra Gregory, and when catcher Morgan Skelley's throw back to the plate flew past Gregory, Mobile's Sylvia Bedgood raced home with the go-ahead run.
Linden Jones got the win after pitching five innings of relief. No. 2 Houston Baptist 2, Columbia 1: Columbia scored its run in the top of the first inning when Ashley Perrigo singled home Lindsey Williams, but lost the lead for good when Houston Baptist scored twice in the bottom of the fourth.
Morgan Anderson put the Huskies ahead with a two-run homer that also scored Kelli Gayle. Rachel Werner got the pitching win after allowing five hits and striking out six.
Update from 2004
After coaching Thomas to las year's NAIA championship, Thomas Macera coached Lynn (Fla.)to the NCAADivision II title.
Lynn defeated Kennesaw State (Ga.)in Monday's finals 5-3.
No. 1 Thomas (Ga.) 4, No. 4 Mobile 2
No. 3 California Baptist 1, No. 7 Science & Arts (Okla.) 0, 8 innings
North Georgia 6, No. 2 Houston Baptist 4
No. 5 Simon Fraser (Canada) 5, Columbia (Mo.) 4
Thomas (Ga.) 5, California Baptist 0
North Georgia vs. No. 5 Simon Fraser, (n)
No. 4 Mobile 3, No. 7 Science & Arts (Okla.) 2
No. 2 Houston Baptist 2, Columbia (Mo.) 1 Today's games
No. 1 Thomas (Ga.) vs. No. 5 Simon Fraser, 3 p.m.
No. 4 Mobile vs. North Georgia, 10 a.m.
No. 2 Houston Baptist vs. No. 3 California Baptist, 12:30 p.m.
Mobile/North Georgia winner vs. Houston Baptist/California Baptist winner, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday's games
Teams to be determined, 10 a.m.
Teams to be determined, 12:30
Teams to be determined, 3 p.m. (if necessary)
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