GULF SHORES, Ala. - Oklahoma City University advanced to the NAIA softball championships title game for the second time in three years and will play for its ninth national championship after winning twice Tuesday at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
The third-ranked Stars ground out a 1-0, ninth-inning win over second-ranked Cal State San Marcos, then edged Brenau (Ga.) 2-1. OCU will face 10th-ranked Shorter (Ga.) at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the championship.
The Stars (47-19) would need to beat Shorter (52-11) twice to add to its national titles. Shorter, which beat OCU 3-1 on Monday, can win the tournament with a victory. The if-necessary game would be played following the first title game Wednesday.
OCU has secured its 13th national-title game appearance. OCU has captured national softball crowns in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007. OCU finished as national runner-up in 1986, 1993, 1999 and 2010.
Against 16th-ranked Brenau, OCU rallied as Angela Lovelady laced a two-run double along the left-field foul line. Kylee Rounsaville had reached on a hit by pitch, then Magean De La Torre doubled.
Brenau jumped out to a 1-0 first-inning advantage. Brenau's Tiffany Schandera led off the inning with a double and eventually scored on Lily LaVelle's wild pitch.
LaVelle (43-4) responded by retiring the next 10 batters. LaVelle, a senior from Bridge Creek, Okla., permitted Brenau an unearned run on two hits and a walk in seven innings. LaVelle struck out 10.
In the 2012 NAIA Championships, LaVelle has thrown every pitch for OCU. LaVelle has fanned 80 in 57 innings while allowing two earned runs. She ran her NAIA-record strikeout totals to 532 this year and 1,403 in her career, becoming the first in NAIA history to strike out 1,400 batters.
Tori Joyner, a junior from Mustang, Okla., went 2-for-4, and Lovelady, a junior from El Cajon, Calif., went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. De La Torre, a junior from Plano, Texas, went 1-for-3 and scored a run.
In the early game, Rounsaville hammered a walk-off home run starting the bottom of the ninth to oust Cal State San Marcos. Rounsaville belted the first pitch she saw leading off the bottom of the inning for her 12th homer this year.
The two teams were deadlocked thanks to the pitching of LaVelle and Cortney Allen of Cal State San Marcos. LaVelle (42-4) completed the nine-inning shutout on six hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts while needing 138 pitches. LaVelle stranded eight Cal State San Marcos runners, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the first.
Allen (25-6) allowed five hits and a walk while fanning five in eight innings. OCU left six runners on base.
The Stars left two runners on in the third. Joyner used a walk, then LaVelle singled. Joyner advanced to third, and LaVelle made it to second on a double steal. Allen threw out Joyner at home on Lopez's grounder, then got Rounsaville on a groundout.
Katie Proffitt led off the eighth with a base hit and reached second on Joyner's sacrifice bunt. Allen struck out LaVelle, then got Lopez to fly out.
At Gulf Shores, Ala.
Gulf Shores Sportsplex
Brenau (Ga.) 4, Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) 0
Oklahoma City 2, William Carey (Miss.) 0
Shorter (Ga.) 4, Cal State San Marcos 3
Auburn-Montgomery 2, Indiana Southeast 1, 9 inn., Indiana Southeast eliminated
Cal State San Marcos 7, William Carey 5, William Carey eliminated
Brenau 8, Central Baptist 4
Shorter 3, Oklahoma City 1
Oklahoma City 4, Auburn-Montgomery 1, Auburn-Montgomery eliminated
Cal State San Marcos 4, Central Baptist 0, Cent. Baptist eliminated
Game 11: Shorter 5, Brenau 1
Game 12: Oklahoma City 1, Cal State San Marcos 0, 9 inn., CSU San Marcos eliminated
Game 13: Oklahoma City 2, Brenau 1, Brenau eliminated
Game 14: Oklahoma City vs. Shorter, 12:30 p.m., field 1, championship
Game 15: If necessary, field 1