COSTA MESA, Calif. - For the second-straight season, the Marian softball team is headed to the NAIA World Series as the Knights punched their ticket to Clermont, Florida, with a 7-0 win over Oregon Tech Wednesday in the NAIA Opening Round championship at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. The Knights are 47-4 with the win.
There was hardly a doubt as Marian sent Breena Smith the the circle for the third-straight day and the offense got going early. After a scoreless first inning, Marian posted the game's first run in the top of the second when Olivia Hoffman singled in Riley Cripe. Smith gave up hits in the second and third innings, but worked around them with ease.
In the top of the fourth, Marian extended its lead with four runs on five hits. After Mackenzie Reeder and Cripe singled to lead off the inning, Vanessa Lay brought them both home with a single to left field. Lay scored one batter later when Hannah Williams ripped a triple to right field. Erica Miller finished the scoring by driving in Williams with a base hit.
Smith found herself in trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning as Oregon Tech loaded the bases on a pair of hits and a walk, but a ground ball to Lay at shortstop put an end to the threat and kept the Owls off the board. The Knights then came up to bat and tacked on two more runs thanks to a two-RBI triple from Miller to make it 7-0. The Owls made a little noise in the bottom of the sixth, but Smith once again got out of trouble, leaving two on base.
The bottom of the seventh was no issue at all as Smith recorded three-straight ground outs to send Marian to the World Series. Smith pitched a complete game and allowed only seven hits, while striking out two and walking two. Marian had 12 hits at the plate with Miller, Cripe and Williams all recording two apiece.
The Knights will face Corban (Ore.) Friday at 8 p.m. ET in Clermont, Florida.