CMU Softball Wins Second Straight HAAC Tourney
OVERLAND PARK, KS - Central Methodist infielder Lauren Geringer hit three homeruns, including a grand slam, as the Eagles rolled MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 19-8 in five innings to win their second straight Heart of America Athletic Conference Softball Tournament championship.
The Green and Black have won 19 straight contests overall and 28 of their last 29. The Eagles have won eight straight HAAC Tournament games and are 12-2 in the event in the last three years. Central Methodist has won the tournament three times (2008, 2012, 2013) under coach Pat Reardon.
Geringer's three bombs tie the NAIA single-game record and is the second player in 2013 to accomplish the feat, joining Jamie Cyrus of Union (Ky.) who went yard three times versus Bryan (Tenn.) on April 8. Geringer also adds to her school single-season record, now at 13.
No. 1-seed Central Methodist (34-10-1) and No. 2 MidAmerica Nazarene (28-13), two teams that had already clinched spots in the upcoming 33rd Annual NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, combined for 10 homeruns Sunday evening as a brisk wind gusting between 8-10 miles per hour blew out to center field for most of the evening.
After the Eagles built a 2-0 lead through one inning, Central Methodist's Bri Boatwright began the homerun bonanza with a two-run shot in the second. Boatwright's bomb was the first of three in the half-inning for the Green and Black, as later in the inning Michele Rupard, with a three-run homerun, and Geringer hit back-to-back jacks to center to make the score 6-0.
The Pioneers came back with three homers in the bottom of the second. Jen Polivka hit a two-run homerun over the center field fence. A Chelsey Streibich solo homer was followed by a Vanessa Arandules two-run homer, cutting the deficit to 6-5.
The Green and Black blew the game open with an eight-run third inning, highlighted by Geringer's second bomb of the night, a three-run yardjob, to center. A Shelby Pohlman RBI single down the left field line plated Jacqui Cappuccilli to give Central Methodist a commanding 14-5 edge.
Tianna George hit a solo homerun for the Pioneers in the bottom of the third, but Geringer's grand slam in the top of the next frame hit off the scoreboard in right field and put an exclamation point on her career night, giving the Eagles a 12-run cushion. Four batters later, Cappuccilli scored Central Methodist's final run of the game on a Pohlman RBI single to left, making the score 19-6.
Polivka hit her second homer of the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but Streibich lined out to Cappuccilli in the next at-bat to end the Pioneers' comeback attempt and seal the Eagles' hold on the title for another year.
Geringer, Rupard and Pohlman each finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate. Cappuccilli also posted a three-hit day for the Eagles, who pounded out 18
Geringer posted a Central Methodist single-game record eight RBI and drew two walks. Geringer's 43 RBI this season is tied for seventh with Christy Jones (1997) for the most in a single season in school history and 11 off Jones' record of 54 set in 1996.
Rupard and Boatwright each drove in three. Pohlman tallied two RBI.
Geringer and Rupard each scored four runs. Cappuccilli, Pohlman, Boatwright, Erika Reinagel and Mary Kate Townley each scored twice.
Polivka was 2-for-3 with two homers, four RBI and two runs scored.
Jocelyn Glaze (3-1) pitched the four biggest innings of her young collegiate career out of the bullpen for the win. She allowed three earned runs on four hits and struck out two.
MidAmerica Nazarene starting pitcher Kayla Harris (10-7) lasted only one and two-third innings, taking the loss after giving up five earned runs on six hits. The Eagles also torched reliever Taylor Pearcy for 12 runs, 11 earned, on nine hits in only an inning and a third.
Each team hit five homeruns.
Central Methodist defeated No. 8 Graceland (Iowa) 9-0 in five innings in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Evangel (Mo.) 7-3 in the semifinals earlier Sunday.
The Green and Black started the day by putting up a five spot with two outs in the bottom first inning. With the bases loaded, Courtney Dennis singled down the right field line, bringing home Reinagel for the first run of the afternoon. Robbins and Boatwright followed up with consecutive two-run singles to right center.
A Rupard RBI walk in the third preceded a Geringer RBI single to center, making the score 7-0. A Townley two-run single to center in the fourth finished off the Yellowjackets.
Townley was 3-for-3 against Graceland (10-23) with two RBI and one run scored and walk.
Bri Ford (14-4) picked up the win in the circle, tossing a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts.
Pitcher Alyssa Greenstreet (7-13) suffered the defeat, giving up seven runs, five earned, on six hits in two and one-third innings. She also allowed seven walks.
The Eagles led the Crusaders 1-0 before a Rupard RBI single to center scored Boatwright to start a five-run second inning. A Townley RBI double in the third plated Reinagel to give Central Methodist a 7-0 advantage.
Evangel's Brittany Arnold hit a three-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth, but Eagles' pitcher Aubrey Utley slammed the door the rest of the way.
Cappuccilli was 3-for-3 against Evangel (29-13) with a double and three RBI.
Utley (17-4) went the distance, allowing three earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
Pitcher Brooke Brenton (10-7) took the loss, lasting only one and one-third innings while surrendering six runs, five earned, on six hits.
Central Methodist now awaits the unveiling of the World Series Opening Round pairings on May 7 at approximately 7 p.m. CT at naia.org. The event will be played May 13-15 and features 10 four-team, double-elimination tournaments (40 qualifiers).
The champions of each of the 10 Opening Round tournaments advance to the National Championship final site in Columbus, Ga., from May 24-30. These programs will participate in a double-elimination National Championship format on one championship field which was home to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.