Comeback kids finish runner-up at GSAC tourney, clinch national berth

With a 7-6 walkoff win over San Diego Christian in the elimination game of the GSAC tournament, Biola clinched their second consecutive NAIA tournament bid.

Junior+Kendall+Maddox+winds+up+her+pitch+at+the+softball+game+against+La+Sierra+University+on+Feb.+6.+%C2%A0%7C+Melanie+Kim%2FTHE+CHIMES+%5Bfile+photo%5D

Junior Kendall Maddox winds up her pitch at the softball game against La Sierra University on Feb. 6.  | Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Tyler Gunhus, Writer

This past weekend during the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament, Biola softball trailed in the sixth inning in all four games they played.

Good thing softball games are seven innings long.

Come from behind victories over Vanguard University and San Diego Christian College propelled the Eagles to the championship game, yet more importantly, their second consecutive NAIA tournament.

A GRITTY VICTORY

After a first round bye, the Eagles faced off against the Vanguard Lions, who were coming off a gritty 4-3 victory over the six-seeded SDCC Hawks in the opening round.

Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first, Biola found themselves trailing after the Lions brought home two unearned runs in the top of the third. Yet, the long ball prevailed for the Eagles, as sophomore Kimmy Triolo hit a solo shot to center, tying it in the fifth. Then an inning later, freshman Anji Amezquita punched one over the fence in left with one on for the 4-2 lead, which held through the final half inning.

FAILED MOMENTUM

Attempting to shake off the excitement and nerves of their first game, the momentum failed to carry the Eagles in Friday’s nightcap against powerhouse Concordia University Irvine. The Irvine Eagles were boosted by three home runs, scoring nine runs on 11 hits through seven innings. Biola left 10 on base and were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position.

The loss dropped Biola into an elimination game with San Diego Christian, who were riding a three-game win-streak in elimination games and had just beaten three-seeded Vanguard in a 1-0 shutout.

A SHOWDOWN

In a back and forth showdown with the winner moving on to face Concordia in the finals, as well as an NAIA berth on the line, it was the Hawks who struck first.

Two runs in the third for SDCC put Biola in a hole, yet the Eagles caught a bit of luck. Senior shortstop Sarah Stromwall flied to center with two outs and the bases loaded, but some miscommunication by the left and center fielders caused the ball to drop and all three base runners to come home. Biola took a 4-2 lead headed into the fourth.

Senior Reba DePriest tossed two scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth. Triolo came in relief, but loaded the bases, forcing DePriest to re-enter and close things out. The Hawks tallied four in the top of the six to take a 6-4 lead.

REFUSAL TO ROLL OVER

But Biola refused to roll over. After Triolo doubled to lead off the bottom half of the inning, Amezquita singled for her third RBI of the tournament. Sophomore Kasey Hormel then singled to bring home another run, tying the game back at 6-6.

After a solid inning for DePriest, Biola entered the bottom of the seventh looking to end the game on a walk. Ashley Spadt would answer that call. The senior second baseman singled up the middle to score junior catcher Bria Madrid from second, sending Biola to the GSAC championships game.

Head coach Lorie Coleman chose to rest many of her ailing players in the championship game, with Biola needing to win two against the Irvine Eagles. Although it was a trouncing by Concordia to the tune of 12-0, Biola was completely content to finish as the runner up, ultimately advancing to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.

The opening round will kick off next Monday, May 11. Biola will find out on Thursday, May 6 during an afternoon selection show where they will be competing, which could include Oregon, South Carolina or Oklahoma.

0 0 vote
Article Rating