The Seward County Lady Saints Softball Team punched their ticket for the 2009 NJCAA National Tournament Monday night with a win in the Region VI Championship game against Garden City. The Lady Saints clinched their berth to the title game Saturday night but had to wait until Monday night and a change of venue later to finish their quest.
Seward drew Garden City who won in extra innings in the semifinal game to reach their date with the Lady Saints. After a 1-2-3 inning from newly announced 2 time Jayhawk West Conference Most Valuable Player Courtney Auger, the Lady Saints jumped on the board first in their first trip to the plate. Alicia Reyes reached base on an error to leadoff the game and after a sacrifice bunt from Brianna Baron was driven in by Marisa Coats who launched her first triple of the season to the right field fence to give the Lady Saints a 1-0 lead. The middle innings of the game went by swiftly and without much action as each team was able to muster just one total baserunner through the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings combined and the game sat at 1-0 going into the 6th inning of play. The Lady Busters then scored for the first time in their past 17 innings off of Auger with a 2 out RBI single to tie the game at 1. The Lady Saints wouldn’t keep it tied for long as their bats came alive in the bottom half of the 6th inning as they racked up 4 runs, capped off by bases loaded RBI single from Shelby Casey to plate a pair of runs and extend their lead to 5-1. Garden City was not ready to go down without a fight however and after a pair of singles and a hit batter to lead off the inning, had the tying run at the plate with nobody out in the 7th. Left fielder Alex Wall squeezed a ball past Baron at third base but Reyes was able to dive to make the play and remarkably throw the runner out at third base for the force out. A run scored on the play to make it 5-2 Seward but that is all they would get as Auger tightened up her cleats and struck out the final two batters of the game to preserve the win and send the Lady Saints to the National Tournament for the first time in school history.
The win took the Lady Saints to 38-14 on the season and extends their season long win streak to 11 games. Their next stop will be St. George, Utah for the NJCAA National Tournament where they look to improve on arguably the best season in school history. Seward will likely leave Monday for the 1000 mile journey where they will practice Wednesday morning and partake in a welcoming banquet Wednesday evening before starting play at either 11:00 or 2:00 on Thursday. Depending on their first round outcome, they will then play at 6:00 or 8:00 Thursday night following opening ceremonies of the 2009 National Championships.