COLUMBUS, Ga. (AUM Athletics) - Lauren Shaw connected on her second game-deciding home run in as many days, as the sophomore launched a two-run shot in the third inning to plate the only runs in a 2-0 Auburn Montgomery victory over Reinhardt Wednesday, sending the Warhawks to championship game in the 2014 NAIA Softball World Series.
With the win, the Warhawks improved to 43-6 on the year and will play for the first national championship in the program's history Thursday at 5 p.m. Eastern. The Warhawks opponent will be one of three teams - Reinhardt, Oklahoma City or Southern States Athletic Conference foe William Carey – which will be determined by two elimination games Wednesday. AUM must be defeated twice in order to be eliminated.
During the decisive inning, AUM took advantage of a throwing error by the Lady Eagles, which allowed Katie Spain to reach base with one out. Shaw followed by taking a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left-centerfield to give the Warhawks a 2-0 lead. Jade Sasser and Kayla Hale followed with consecutive singles, before a walk to Katie Brinkman loaded the bases with one out and chased Reinhardt starter Madison Luck (36-3) from the game. However, Carliegh Myatt calmed the threat by striking out pinch hitter Sarah Angulo and forcing Jennifer Jenkins to hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Shaw finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, adding a pair of singles and a walk to her homer and two RBIs. AUM managed just six hits for the game, as Spain, Sasser and Hale also contributed singles.
In circle, Cassie Daniels (20-4) continued her stellar tournament, tossing her 11th shutout of the season, and second of the World Series, while striking out nine and walking none. Through three games, Daniels has allowed just 11 hits in 21 innings, striking out 25 and walking only four. The only run she has allowed was unearned.
The Warhawks put pressure on the Lady Eagles early, stranding four runners in the first two innings, before finally breaking through on the Shaw homer. AUM was able to touch Luck for five hits and the two runs in just 2 1/3 innings, but stranded seven on base in the opening three frames.
Although dominant, Daniels worked out of a jam in the second inning, after C.J. Browder led off the frame with a double to the gap in left-centerfield. Browder moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Daniels shut the door by striking out Katie Blair and forcing Kendall Hahn to ground out to end the threat.
The junior also ran into trouble in the sixth inning, when she gave up a pair of one-out hits, including a double by Katie Rietkovich, to put runners on second and third. Daniels again stood strong, striking out Randi Wimpy and forcing Browder to ground out to third base.
For the Eagles, Browder and Shelby Sinclair each had a pair of hits, while Myatt gave the team 4 2/3 innings of one-hit relief.
Wednesday's schedule will begin with the Crusaders of William Carey taking on Oklahoma City at 4 p.m. The winner of that game will challenge Reinhardt at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to Thursday's title game.
(COURTESY: AUM ATHLETICS)