Lady Badgers Play for National Championship
COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Spring Hill College Softball team will take on top seed Concordia (Calif.) in its first-ever National Championship game tonight, Thursday, May 30th at 5 p.m. EDT in Columbus, Ga.
The Lady Badgers defeated No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian (Texas), 4-2, to advance to the Championship round. Spring Hill head coach Alison Sellers-Cook couldn’t be more proud of her team, especially after a crucial seventh inning effort.
Tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday, Spring Hill’s team scored two runs in the seventh behind clutch hitting and a bunt that took the Lady Chaps by surprise. In the bottom of the seventh, down 4-2, Lubbock Christian got two base hits to put runners on second and third, but a ground-out ended the contest.
“It was just amazing. I told the girls that if that (inning) didn’t show you what we are capable of doing in this tournament, then nothing will,” said Sellers-Cook. “For the kids to get on base, lay down the bunt in the crucial situation and my lead-off hitter to get a hit off a changeup and score the runner from second base is huge.”
Spring Hill’s freshman pitcher, Caroline Sagrera, had seven strikeouts, and Lubbock Christian’s freshman pitcher, Katera Eltsosie, had 11 in the losing effort. Seller-Cook attributes much of the Lady Badgers’ success on Wednesday to Sagrera’s leadership and consistency.
“Caroline is clutch,” Sellers-Cook said. “The harder it gets, the better she is. She wants this so bad, and she knows what we are capable of. She bore down and got the job done as well as her defense behind her.”
The Lady Badgers have to win twice against Concordia to secure the national championship, but Sellers-Cook is confident that her team is prepared for the challenge. “To get here, we had to win twice in South Carolina (in Opening Rounds). So, I told the kids, they’re prepared for this. They’ve already played one game and then came back and played a double-header to get here. That’s prepared them to win this national championship.”
Spring Hill is the only participant in the bracket with national tournament experience as all three other programs have never before advanced to the national playoffs. The Badgers gained an automatic bid to the national tournament Sunday, May 26th as the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-Up.
Spring Hill last appeared in the national postseason in 2007 when they went 0-2 at the Region XIII Tournament and last appeared in the NAIA National Championship Tournament in 2003.
The Badgers hold a 6-6 record in the National Championship Tournament with three previous appearances in 1999, 2002 and 2003.
Coach Alison Sellers-Cook enjoyed a spectacular playing career at Spring Hill College. In 2007, Sellers-Cook led the Badgers to their first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) regular season championship and a second consecutive NAIA Region XIII Tournament berth. Following the season, she was named the 2007 GCAC Softball Coach of the Year.
The championship is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by the Columbus Sports Council. The 33rd annual championship is taking place in the state of Georgia for the first time in NAIA softball history.