2013 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Capsules

info@islandpacket.comMay 13, 2013 

1. USC Beaufort Sand Sharks

Record: 41-4

NAIA ranking: 9th

Championship appearance: 1st

Conference: Sun

Conference finish: 14-2, 1st

Team batting average: .375

Team ERA: 2.14

Players to watch

SS C.J. Browder, Jr. -- The Sun Conference Player of the Year hit .493 with 16 home runs, 65 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

P Kristy Cook, Soph. -- The Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year is 20-0 with a 1.75 ERA and 133 strikeouts against 35 walks in 144 innings.

Other key players: P Ashlie Layman (11-0, 1.87 ERA), P Caitlin Campbell (9-3, 2.69 ERA), 2B Katie Rietkovich (.379, 13 HRs, 33 RBIs), 1B Maddie Byrd (.373, 6 HRs, 46 RBIs), 3B Mariaha Sanborn (.381, 9 HRs, 33 RBIs), RF Missy Hughes (.402); LF Sammi Shaffren (.382)

Of note: Only second year of program. ... Have won 18 of last 19 games. ... Three of four losses have come by one run.

2. Spring Hill (Ala.) Badgers

Record: 41-14

NAIA ranking: 15th

Championship appearance: 4th

Conference: Southern States

Conference finish: 16-9, 5th

Team batting average: .284

Team ERA: 1.69

Player to watch

P Carolina Sagrera, Fr. -- SSAC Pitcher of the Year (31-8, 1.38 ERA, 384 Ks, 264 IP) leads the NAIA in wins and strikeouts.

Other key players: C Jade Bourgeois (.402, 22 2Bs, 2 HRs, 31 RBIs, SSAC Gold Glove), P Linsey Dickerson (7-5, 2.20 ERA), 3B Mariha Partman (.314, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), OF Shea Blanchard (.284, 6 HRs, 32 RBIs).

Of note: First championship appearance since 2003. ... Second-best win total in school history (47 in 1999). ... Eleven of 14 losses came against current top-25 teams. ... Pitching staff has 22 shutouts.

3. Virginia Intermont Lady Cobras

Record: 36-12

NAIA ranking: Receiving votes

Championship appearance: 1st

Conference: Appalachian Athletic

Conference finish: 15-3, 2nd

Team batting average: .330

Team ERA: 2.99

Player to watch

P Micalah Sacre, Soph. -- The transfer from NCAA Division I Radford was named the AAC Co-Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year, as well as the AAC tournament MVP. In the circle, she's 14-4 with a 1.54 ERA. At the plate, she's is batting .456 with 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Other key players: IF Hannah McCloud (.369, 15 HRs, 60 RBIs), Krystle Brenneman (.424, 18 RBIs, 13 SBs), Megan Perry-shifflett (.384, 28 RBIs).

Of note: Lady Cobras are 28-3 when scoring at least five runs. ... Qualified by winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament. ... Have won six straight. ... The 36 wins are the most in coach Eric Senter's seven-year tenure at the school. ...The Lady Cobras have dedicated their season to Willie Belcher, a former sports information director at the school who died in June 2012 after a two-year battle with cancer. Belcher's niece, Samantha Belcher, is a senior on this year's team.

4. Cumberland (Tenn.) Bulldogs

Record: 36-20

NAIA ranking: Not ranked

Championship appearance: 1st

Conference: Mid-South

Conference finish: 13-15, 6th

Team batting average: .306

Team ERA: 2.20

Player to watch

P Courtney Maynard, Jr. -- Maynard leads a solid pitching staff with a 19-9 record and a 1.58 ERA. She has 149 strikeouts in 182 innings.

Other key players: P Caroline Curran (7-3, 2.28 ERA), P Allison Blackwood (5-5, 2.47 ERA, .399, 3 HRs, 41 RBIs), C Jessica Roper (transfer from NCAA D-I Northern Illinois, .344, 9 HRs, 29 RBIs).

Of note: The Bulldogs reached the NAIA National Tournament after an improbable run in the Mid-South Conference Tournament, where they finished runner-up as a No. 6 seed. ... Cumberland set a record for victories under fifth-year head coach Heather Stanfill.

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