ST. GEORGE — It took an extra game, but Angelina College captured the 2014 NJCAA Softball National Championship over the College of Central Florida, 8-5, at the Canyons Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon. The win for the No. 10-seeded Road Runners brought an end to the four-day, 16-team tournament with representatives from Florida to Idaho.
Angelina opened the game with a run in the second inning via a small-ball approach as runners on first and second from back-to-back singles were advanced on a sacrifice bunt. One runner came home on the next play as a ground ball allowed the runner to cross the plate.
The Road Runners then showed their power in the third as a three-run home run extended the lead to 5-0. Central Florida broke through with their first run in the top of the fourth as Amy Szmanowski tied the tournament record with her fourth home run of the weekend to put the Patriots within four, 5-1.
Angelina answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-out rally, collecting three hits and two walks before a strikeout ended the frame. Another RBI double in the bottom of the fifth capped the scoring for the Road Runners and gave the home side the 8-1 lead.
Central Florida continued to fight in the game, despite having played in two games earlier in the day, posting a pair of runs in both the sixth and seventh innings with three of the runs coming by way of home runs by Cheyenne Blaha and Lindsay O'Steen. The Patriots had the bases loaded with two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate in the top of the seventh, put a final popup to short ended the game and gave the Road Runners the championship title.
Game 29 - No. 8 Central Florida 6, No. 4 Chattanooga State 3
The College of Central Florida made of the most of each of its seven hits to score six runs en route to a 6-3 victory over Chattanooga State to advance to the title game.
Chattanooga State recorded the first runs of the game via a two-run double in the second inning, but the lead changed hands in the home half of the frame as Central Florida's Cheyenne Blaha tallied a three-run home run to give the Patriots the 3-2 lead.
CCF tacked on two more runs in the third and another in the fourth to extend the margin to three, 6-2, and maintained the advantage going into the top of the sixth. Chattanooga State put runners on the corners with two outs in the inning and Courtney Crawford delivered an RBI single, recording the Tigers final run of the game.
Game 30 - No. 8 Central Florida 6, No. 10 Angelina 2
The College of Central Florida won its second game of the day and forced a second game to decide the 2014 NJCAA softball national championship with a 6-2 victory over Angelina.
The Patriots logged the first point of the game after turning a double into a run on an Angelina error in the outfield. The Road Runners came right back to tie the score 1-1 on a solo home run off the bat of Taylor Harper in the top of the second.
The deadlock was broken in the bottom of the third on a two-run home run by Amy Szmanowski, giving Central Florida the 3-1 advantage and a lead that would hold through the rest of the game. Angelina did score a run on an RBI single in the top of the fourth, but Central Florida closed out the game with a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth, leading to the final 6-2 decision.
All-tournament team: Sammie Murietta (Odessa College), Lindsay O'Steen (Central Florida), Taylor Harper (Angelina), Melissa Boland (Angelina), Courtney Crawford (Chattanooga St.), Cheyenne Blaha (Central Florida), Katlyn Barker (Angelina), Holli Rowland (Southern Union St.), Laura Mabary (North Central Texas), Carson O'Donald (Spartanburg Methodist), Autumn Hanners (Central Florida), Amy Szmanowski (Central Florida).
Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Jessie Rodriguez (San Jacinto-South)
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Kadija Neely (Chattanooga State)
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Samantha Moore (Angelina)
Most Valuable Player: Madalyn Sumrall (Angelina)
Karen Sykes Outstanding Coach of the Tournament: Mark Mattson (Angelina)
Kyle Cottam is an assistant athletics media relations director at Southern Utah University. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.