The Gulf Shores Bracket’s No. 3-seed OLLU softball team took No. 1-seed University of Mobile (UM) the distance but lost 5-3 in eight innings in the NAIA Opening Round championship game. The NAIA’s No. 17 ranked Saints finish the season with an incredible 46-13 record. The NAIA’s No.1-ranked Rams win the Gulf Shores Bracket and move on to the NAIA World Series.
Head Coach Bruce Lenington said, “I don’t think the word proud really does justice to how I feel about these players. They absolutely battled the number one team in the country to the very last out. We lose two players next year and look forward to fighting together again.”
The Saints lost to Mobile in the only previous meeting in 2015.
Mobile struck first in the second inning with an RBI single to lead 1-0. The Saints left a few runners on base in the following frames but cashed in during the fourth inning. Kayla Dreese (SR/San Antonio, Texas) drew an opening walk and advanced to second on a single by Cassandra Valdez (JR/Brownsville, Texas). Ariel Montgomery (SR/Castroville, Texas) followed with an RBI double to score both runners. Julissa Moreno (JR/Austin, Texas) later singled to score Taylor Gage (FR/Katy, Texas) and OLLU led 5-3. The Rams evened the score in the sixth inning with an RBI triple and a run that scored on a fielder’s choice. Both teams failed to record a hit in the seventh inning and the championship contest headed to extra innings.
The Rams advanced runners to second and third base on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth inning. They followed with a two-run double to go ahead 5-3. The Saints battled in the bottom of the eighth inning by loading the bases with no outs. Dreese popped up to left field and Duran was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. Montgomery came to the plate with two outs but struck out swinging.
Valdez started in the circle and suffered the loss after allowing five earned runs in 7.1 innings of work. Angela Ramirez (SR/Converse, Texas) took over in the eighth inning and forced an inning-ending double play to limit the damage. Montgomery finished with two RBIs and Moreno batted 2-for-3.
The Saints won two NAIA Opening Round matchups this week for the first time in program history.
The Saints will look to rewrite history during the 2023 season.