HARDEEVILLE, S.C. – The 15th-ranked Spring Hill College softball team brushed past the Cumberland University (Tenn.) Bulldogs in a 6-0 decision at the 2013 NAIA National Championship Tournament's Opening Round semifinal game at Richard Gray Baseball/Softball Complex on Tuesday evening to earn a spot in the Championship game on Wednesday.
Spring Hill took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when junior second baseman Raleigh Downs drove a two-RBI single into left-center with two outs.
Badger starter freshman Caroline Sagrera (33-9) kept the Bulldogs (37-22) hitless through three innings, but a leadoff single and a dropped fly ball by the Badger outfield put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs in the 4th inning. A ground ball to 2nd and two strikeouts would put an end to the Cumberland threat, however.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, SHC put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs following a single to right by Downs and a bunt single by freshman shortstop Sam Leach. A sacrifice bunt by sophomore right fielder Shea Blanchard moved the Badgers to 2nd and 3rd, but senior third baseman Mariha Partman lifted a harmless pop fly to left and freshman pinch runner Julia Cieutat was cut down at home on a grounder to short by sophomore catcher Jade Bourgeois.
Cumberland moved a base runner on 3rd base with two outs in the 6th inning, but Sagrera coaxed third baseman Kacy Hobbs into a pop up to the mound to close the frame. In the bottom of the 6th inning, sophomore first baseman Elise deBruler came through with a two-out, two-run single to push the score out to 4-0. Leach then added the icing by lashing a double into shallow right-center to bring in two more runs and make it a 6-0 contest.
Caroline Curran (7-4) went five innings for the Bulldogs and gave up eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts while Sagrera collected her 17th shutout of the year with just three hits a walk and 11 strikeouts.
Leach and Downs both had two hits with two RBI for the Badgers as sophomore centerfielder Taylor Webre poked two hits into outfield and scored twice.
Spring Hill (43-15) will now play the tournament host and 9th-ranked USC-Beaumont Sand Sharks (43-4) in the championship game on Wednesday beginning at noon EDT. As a result of USCB's earlier 6-4 victory over the Badgers on Tuesday morning, SHC will need to sweep two games from the Sand Sharks to advance to the NAIA National Championship Tournament's final site in Columbus, Ga., on May 24-30.