AUM goes back-to-back with softball title
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - All-American’s Katie Spain and Lauren Shaw hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning and set the tempo for the game from the onset, as the Auburn Montgomery softball team successfully defended its NAIA Softball World Series championship and repeated as the nation’s best team Thursday with a 10-0 victory over Lindsey Wilson at the Jensen Softball Complex.
The Warhawks (46-9), who became the third team in the history of the Softball World Series to repeat as champions and first since Oklahoma City won three straight from 2000-02, were forced to play the if-necessary game after dropping the first game to the Blue Raiders (53-8), 3-0. The national title marks the 25th in AUM athletics history.
“I give all the credit to the girls,” said first-year head coach Eric Newell. “This is a talented, special group of girls. They had to get used to me, and everything I stand for. There were times where we had some tough moments throughout the season, but these girls are so special. But, it was like destiny for them to do it again.”
After being held to just three hits and being held scoreless in the first game, AUM pounded out 14 hits en route to the 10 runs. Spain led the way with four hits, four runs scored and a RBI. Shaw drove in four runs, while Kayla Hale added three batted in. Hayden Henderson also contributed a pair of hits.
The Warhawks quickly established the momentum in the top of the first inning, scoring twice off Blue Raiders’ starter Jordan Hood (21-3). Spain took a 2-2 offering and blasted the pitch over the left field fence to quickly put AUM on the scoreboard. Shaw followed by taking the next pitch over the right field, putting the Warhawks in command.
AUM added two more runs in the third inning, putting together three hits and taking advantage of a Lindsey Wilson error. Jade Sasser drove in Spain with a one-out single, before moving to third on a throwing error by Jenna Firestein. Sasser later came in to score on a passed ball, extending the lead to 4-0.
Shaw upped the lead to 5-0 with a RBI double in the fourth inning, before the Warhawks put the game out of reach with five runs in the sixth inning. Shaw started the rally with a two-run single, before Hale blasted a three-run home run to cap the scoring.
Cassie Jones controlled the Blue Raiders from the circle, scattering just five hits and striking out 10. Jones, who took the loss in the contest to force the if-necessary game, improved to 35-5 on the season and picked up her school-record 17th shutout.
Hood took the loss, allowing 11 hits and eight runs in three innings of work. Casey Bryan also worked three innings for the Blue Raiders.
The 10 runs scored by Auburn Montgomery matched the second-best total in World Series history, matching the mark it set in the 2014 championship game. Oklahoma City holds the record with a 12-0 victory in the 1997 contest.
Following the tournament, Jones was selected the World Series Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. The senior finished the tournament 4-1 with a 0.90 earned run average. She struck out 52 in 31 innings, tossed three shutouts allowed just 17 hits.
She finished the season with 411 strikeouts in 234 innings and a 0.90 ERA. Jones, Spain and fellow senior Laci Driggers were also named to the 2015 NAIA Softball World Series All-Tournament Team