May 11, 2001


Union Softball Wins Three Games on Friday to Claim the NAIA Region XI Championship and Capture Second Berth in Three Years to the NAIA Softball World Series


Jackson, TNóThe No. 2 Union University Lady Bulldogs needed to win three games on the final day of the Region XI Softball Tournament to win the championship, and thatís just what they did. With a 5-3 win in the opener over conference foe Lipscomb University, Union clinched a spot in the NAIA World Series with either an at-large bid or an automatic bid. By defeating Athens State University 3-2 and 1-0 in back-to-back games on Friday, Union earned the automatic bid and caused Athens State to use their host bid to the World Series. The Softball World Series will be played in Decatur, Alabama on May 18-22.

In the first game of the day, Unionís Rachel Murray hit her first career homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Union the lead. Trailing 3-2, Murray drove a pitch over the left field fence to plate three runs and give the Lady Bulldogs a 5-3 lead and eventual win. In a game started by freshman Leah Gronberg, Murray came in to pitch a quick top of the seventh to record her first save of the season. With the win, Gronberg improved her record to 25-2 on the season.

Waiting in the championship round was Athens State, which had defeated Union the night before 3-2 in 10 innings. Union would need to beat Athens State twice to claim the title. With Union leading 2-0 after five, Athens State tied the game with a two out Ė two run homerun by Lacey Prather in the top of the sixth. The game would go to the bottom of the seventh inning tied at two. Michelle Gardner singled to lead off the inning. Unionís All-Region shortstop then sacrificed Gardner to second. She then advanced to third on an error by the Athens State second baseman. Another All-Region selection for Union, Jennifer Sabourin would drive a deep sacrifice fly to right field to score Gardner from third and give Union a 3-2 victory. Region XI Pitcher of the Year, Rachel Murray picked up her 32 win on the season to only four loses. This win for Union broke the old school record of 57 wins in a season as they up their mark to 58-6. Now only one game remained to decide the championship.

In the third game, Murray would get the start on the mound and give up only one hit through three innings before being lifted for Gronberg in the fourth. Union would score the games only run in the bottom of the fifth. Yet another of Unionís five All-Region selections, Ame Clapsaddle, led off with a double to right field and Johnna Porter reached on a fielderís choice. Gronberg then beat out a would be inning ending double play that scored Clapsaddle for the winning run. Gronberg picked up the win after pitching four innings of no-hit ball in relief to up her record to 26-2 on the season.

Being named to the All-Region XI team from Union was Rachel Murray, Jennifer Sabourin, Ame Clapsaddle, Brandi Park, and Leah Gronberg. Unionís goes into next weeks Softball World Series with an overall record of 58-6. Unionís No. 2 national ranking plus the Region XI championship insures the Lady Bulldogs of at least a No. 2 seed in the national tournament.


Media Contact:  Steven Aldridge
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