COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Spring Hill College softball team opened play at the 2013 NAIA National Championship Tournament's Final Site with a 6-3 victory over the 7th-seeded Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) Warhawks in a 14-inning marathon at R.G. Jones Field.
The Warhawks (44-11) put runners at 2nd and 3rd base with two outs in the top of the 1st inning, but SHC freshman pitcher Caroline Sagrera (36-9) worked her way out of the jam with a strikeout.
AUM 1st baseman Kayla Hale touched Sagrera for a two-run homer out of left in the 2nd frame and designated player Katie Spain slapped a line drive solo homer out of right field in the 3rd inning to make it a 3-0 Warhawk advantage.
Spring Hill struggled at the plate versus AUM starter Cassie Daniels (22-5) in the early stages, leaving six runners on base while going hitless through the first five innings. The Badgers finally broke through in the bottom of the 6th inning when 1st baseman Elise deBruler ripped a three-run laser beam out of left-centerfield with one out to tie the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, the Badger put runners at 1st and 2nd, but two pop-out bunt attempts and a strikeout ended the menace.
Each team would put numerous runners into scoring position in the extra frames, but solid defense and pitching snuffed out every threat until the bottom of the 14th inning when SHC sophomore right fielder Shea Blanchard crushed a walk-off three-run home run out of left-center.
Sagrera went the distance in the win and allowed six hits with six walks and 12 strikeouts. Daniels struck out an NAIA National Tournament record-tying 19 batters, but also walked a Tournament record 13 batters in the loss while also giving up seven hits and two hit batters.
DeBruler was 3-for-4 with three RBI as Blanchard had two hits with three RBI for the Badgers who left 18 runners on base in the contest. AUM shortstop Jyssica Pepper had two hits for the Warhawks
Spring Hill (46-15) will next play the 2nd-seeded Lubbock Christian University Lady Chaps (58-8) on Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT at R.G. Jones Field.