Simpson slams Cavaliers in softball championship opener
Simpson University Sports News
REDDING, Calif. - Cherie DeJesus drilled a grand slam home run in the top of the fourth inning, Simpson added the deciding run on a ground out the next inning and then survived a 3-run seventh inning by Concordia (Ore.), allowing the No. 17 Red Hawks to earn a 5-4 win over the Cavaliers in the first round of the NAIA Softball National Championships Opening Round on Monday in Irvine, Calif.
With the win, Simpson, now 36-6 on the season, advances to play No. 1-ranked Concordia (Calif.), a 5-1 winner over St. Thomas (Fla.) Monday afternoon. That game will take place May 13 at 10:30 a.m. Whichever team loses the early second round game will have to bounce back at 3:30 p.m to take on the winner of the Concordia (Ore.)-St. Thomas game that will be played at 1 p.m.
Concordia opened the game's scoring in the second inning as a leadoff double by Kate Santos led to a sacrifice bunt by Mariah Jimenez, and then Santos crossed the plate on a squeeze bunt by Karissa Shiflet as Santos slid head first to beat the throw at the plate.
Simpson used three straight singles to load the bases in the fourth. Kara Wall led off the frame with a single to center while Courtney Thomas and Marissa Bravo-Barajas followed with infield singles to setup DeJesus, who drove a ball over the right-center fence for a 4-1 lead.
Simpson again loaded the bases again in the fifth with a trio of singles to start the stanza, eventually pushing across the run that would prove to be the difference in the outcome. Concordia starter McKenzie Marshall notched a strikeout for the first out before a grounder by Bravo-Barajas produced an RBI and the second out.
The Cavaliers, however, made things interesting in their final at bat. Concordia, now 33-17 on the year, placed the tying run on base following home runs by Meghan Luebbert and Cassidy Horner to cut the Red Hawks' lead to one run. Luebbert connected on her ninth home run of the season with a one-out line drive to center, and after a Katie Aden single, Horner lifted her sixth homer of the spring to make it a 5-4 contest. After a walk put the winning run at the plate, Simpson turned to ace Paris Hallums—the Cal Pac Pitcher of the Year—who was able to thwart the comeback hopes with a first-pitch popup to third to end the game.
Carlye Avey picked up the win for the Red Hawks after going 6 2/3 on the mound, her 12th victory of the spring against only four losses.
Monday, May 12
- Game 1 - No. 2 Simpson (Calif.) vs. No. 3 Concordia (Ore.): Simpson wins 5-4
- Game 2 - No. 1 Concordia (Calif.) vs. No. 4 St. Thomas (Fla.): Concordia wins 5-1
Tuesday, May 13
- Game 3 - No. 2 Simpson vs. No 1 Concordia (Calif.) @ 10:30 a.m.
- Game 4 - No. 3 Concordia (Ore.) vs. No. 4 St. Thomas (Fla.) @ 1 p.m. (Loser Eliminated)
- Game 5 - Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Winner @ 3:30 p.m. (Loser Eliminated)
Wednesday, May 14
- Game 6 - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner @ 12 p.m.
- Game 7 (If Necessary) - Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser @ 3 p.m.
Contact: Derrick Pringle, Jr.