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Point Loma Nazarene's teammates gather at home plate to celebrate the homer by Amber Randel in a 3-2 win over Dickinson State during the quarterfinals of the NAIA tournament at Wilson Morgan on Monday.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Point Loma Nazarene's teammates gather at home plate to celebrate the homer by Amber Randel in a 3-2 win over Dickinson State during the quarterfinals of the NAIA tournament at Wilson Morgan on Monday.

Loma's secret weapon
Sophomore hurler surprises
top-ranked team

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2461

After facing California Baptist six times before the NAIA softball championships and losing all six times, Point Loma Nazarene didn't have many secrets left to offer the top-ranked Lancers.

Well, maybe Point Loma had one.

Sophomore pitcher Melissa Gomez.

Gomez pitched a complete game Monday afternoon during the NAIA championships at Wilson Morgan Park and led the Sea Lions to a 5-2 victory. Point Loma and California Baptist both play in the Golden State Athletic Conference and Region II and are regulars at the NAIA championships, which means the two programs often compete for the same championships.

"This win means they don't have control over us anymore," said Gomez.

The victory came in the winners' bracket and put Point Loma (44-10) into a 3 p.m. contest Tuesday against Oklahoma City (51-6). The Stars advanced with an 11-8 come-from-behind win over Simon Fraser (Canada) in another winners' bracket game.

Tuesday's Point Loma-OCU winner will advance into Wednesday's championship round and can finish no worse than second.

Point Loma coach Dave Williams said he turned to Gomez partly because California Baptist hasn't seen her much. According to this year's boxscores, she pitched briefly in two of the six losses for a total of 3 2/3 innings.

But Monday, she allowed only three hits and no walks.

She hit one batter and struck out three.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, she gave up a single to Shawna Rainwater, and Sarah Hurlbut followed with a home run to account for California Baptist's only runs. Gomez followed by striking out Karina Slauenwhite to end the game.

"The difference between this time and the others we played them probably was Mel," Williams said. "She did a great job."

Gomez (6-2) was used mostly in relief in the regular season but already has picked up three wins at the NAIA tournament. Two came in relief.

The Sea Lions got a big boost of offense in the top of the third inning when Paige Powell broke the ice with a two-out solo home run. That's her third homer of the tournament after hitting five in the regular season.

Amanda Addie, Gomez and Allison Boeckelman each followed with singles, producing another run and a 2-0 lead. Gomez made it home on a double-steal attempt to make it 3-0, and from there, Point Loma held control.

Oklahoma City 11, Simon Fraser (Canada) 8: The Clan scored eight times in the first three innings off OCU pitchers Julie Harvey and Jordan Schwenke, with the help of two-run homers by Melanie Matthews and Carolyn Bell.

However, the game turned when the Stars inserted pitcher Dasha Shembereva into the game with one out in the bottom of the third. She didn't allow another run, allowing OCU time to rally.

Brittani Ellis slugged a two-run homer in the top of the fourth inning, and Melody Matthews added another two-run shot in the top of the fifth to cut it to 8-6.

In the top of the seventh, OCU started its final rally with one out and nobody on base.

Murphy reached on a bunt single against Jennifer Schreyer, who worked all seven innings. Rachel Cope followed with another single, and Cat Calvert added a single to score Murphy.

Erin Slettvet's sacrifice fly scored Cope and made it 8-8. Ellis singled home Calvert for a 9-8 lead, and Amanda Howard added another single. Mindy Crabaugh doubled to left field to score Ellis and Howard.

In the bottom of the seventh, Shembereva allowed a single to Terra Davenport but put the next three batters down in order.

Afterward, OCU coach Phil McSpadden hinted that he should've started Shembereva.

"We won in spite of my bad coaching," he said. "Julie and Jordan were effective against Simon Fraser the last time we played them, but they didn't have their good stuff this time."

Winners' bracket, first round

California Baptist 5, St. Gregory's (Okla.) 1: Sarah Goforth tripled twice in the first two innings, scored twice and drove in two runs as the Lancers advanced. Amy Thomas pitched a seven-hitter for the win.

Point Loma Nazarene 3, Dickinson State (N.D.) 2: Amber Randel broke a 2-2 tie with a solo homer in the top of the seventh.

KC Robertson got the win after entering with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. She got out of the inning without allowing another run and then shut out Dickinson State in the bottom of the seventh.

Oklahoma City 2, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) 0: Shembereva pitched a five-hitter and struck out seven in her complete-game performance. OCU managed a run in the second and fourth innings for its offense.

Simon Fraser 3, Houston Baptist 0: Rebecca Hartley hit a solo homer in the second inning and a two-run homer in the sixth. She has four homers and 15 RBIs for the tournament. Nobody in the history of the tournament has driven in that many runs.

Winning pitcher Jennifer Schreyer worked all seven innings and allowed five hits and no runs.

Losers' bracket, first round

St. Gregory's (Okla.) 8, Dickinson State (N.D.) 7: St. Gregory's trailed 7-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before unloading for seven runs on six hits and two errors.

Kayla Jackson's three-run double made it 7-4. She later scored on an error to make it 7-5. Laura Mehl made it 7-6 with a one-run double, and Laurel Bartholomew's two-run double scored Nicole Tindall and Mehl to win it.

Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) 3, Houston Baptist 1: Trevecca broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Jennifer Perkins' single scored Ashley McCool, and the Trojans added another run later on an error. Winning pitcher Brittiany Johnson allowed six hits and struck out three in seven innings of work.

NAIA Softball Championships

Monday's scores

Winners' bracket, first round

California Baptist 5, St. Gregory's (Okla.) 1

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 3, Dickinson State 2

Oklahoma City 2, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) 0

Simon Fraser (Canada) 3, Houston Baptist 0

Winners' bracket, second round

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 5, California Baptist 2

Oklahoma City 11, Simon Fraser (Canada) 8

Losers' bracket, first round

St. Gregory's (Okla.) 8, Dickinson State (N.D.) 7

Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) 3, Houston Baptist 1

NAIA Softball Championships

Players of the day

  • Melissa Gomez pitched a three-hit complete game to help Point Loma Nazarene beat California Baptist 5-2.

  • Melody Murphy went 3-for-4 with three runs and a two-run homer in an 11-8 win over Simon Fraser. Her bunt single started a five-run rally in the seventh inning.

  • Brittany Dojcak went 4-for-4 with a run, an RBI and a stolen base as St. Gregoryís (Okla.) beat Dickinson State (N.D.) 8-7 after trailing 7-1 heading into the bottom of the last inning.

  • Rebecca Hartley homered twice and drove in three runs in Simon Fraserís 3-0 win over Houston Baptist.

  • Sarah Goforth had two triples, scored two runs and accounted for two RBIs in California Baptistís 5-2 win over St. Gregoryís (Okla.).

    - Mark Edwards

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