Reinhardt's Maddie Monroe (Reinhardt Athletics)
WALESKA — Reinhardt University’s softball team has been seeded No. 8 for the upcoming NAIA National Championship, to be contested May 24-30 in Columbus, Ga.
The Lady Eagles will open play in the tournament May 24 at 1 p.m. against No. 9 St. Xavier (Ill.).
RU punched its ticket to Columbus with a, 2-1, victory over No. 13 Belhaven in the decisive game of the Belhaven Bracket. St. Xavier reached the NAIA National Championship by winning the Concordia (Ore.) Bracket over Corban (Ore.) in the final game.
The Lady Eagles (43-7) will be the only team from the state of Georgia in the event. Nineteen of the 20 players on the roster have hometowns in the state of Georgia, with many from the Cobb and Cherokee County areas.
RU’s pitching staff was one of the biggest reasons that the Lady Eagles will be making the trip to Columbus. Senior pitcher Maddie Monroe (Calhoun, Ga.) pitched back-to-back shutouts over LSU Alexandria and Belhaven to help RU reach the final day. Senior hurler Kelsey Floyd (Newnan, Ga.) entered in relief of Monroe in Wednesday’s first contest against Belhaven, and while the Lady Eagles would lose that game, it was Floyd who pitched 6.1 innings and allowed just one unearned run in earning the win in the finale. Monroe came back out of the bullpen to record the final two outs to earn her third save of the year, going along with her record of 26-2 on the 2013 campaign.
The Lady Eagles were also solid in the field at the Belhaven Bracket. Senior shortstop Lindsey Booker (Americus, Ga.) made three diving catches in RU’s first two wins, and also had a key relay throw in the final game against Belhaven. Freshman Alexis Chumbler (Canton, Ga.) made a spectacular diving catch against Belhaven Tuesday which resulted in a double play to end a BC threat. Sophomore Haley Brannon made a running catch just in front of the wall in right during the final game against Belhaven to end another Blazers threat.
Chumbler led the Lady Eagles in batting at the Belhaven Bracket with a .360 batting average and the team’s only home run. Shelby Sinclair (Marietta, Ga.) had a bracket-best four runs scored. Booker’s three-RBI day Tuesday against Belhaven gave her the team-high in RBIs for the tournament, with Floyd and Kaley Garmon (Flowery Branch, Ga.) each driving in two runs over the four games. Sinclair, Amber Herrington (Canton, Ga.) and Tyler Sampson (Loganville, Ga.) each stole a base in the tournament as RU swiped the most bases of any team in the bracket.
If Reinhardt wins May 24, it will move on to a game Saturday, May 25 against top-seeded Concordia (Calif.) at 7 p.m. If Reinhardt falls to St. Xavier, the Lady Eagles would play Saturday against the loser of a contest between No. 4 Oklahoma City and No. 5 Cal State San Marcos.