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Cathi Aradi

Day 3 Notes - NCAA Division II Women's Softball Championship, Thursday, May 22, 1999

Game Nine (Elimination Game) -- Kennesaw State 3, North Dakota State 0

Lacey Gardner tossed a three-hitter and Kathy Le hit her third home run to lead Kennesaw State. Le, who is 8-for-11 (.727) in the tournament, opened the game with a double and scored on a single by Audra Thomas. In the fifth inning, after a leadoff double by Nikole Blue, Le lined a home run over the right field fence to give the Owls a three-run lead. Gardner allowed three singles and a walk, and faced only two batters above the minimum. North Dakota State pitcher Julie Fromm struck out seven batters and finished with 26 strikeouts for the tournament. North Dakota State is eliminated from the finals, finishing in a fifth-place tie in its first ever tournament appearance.

Records:

Kennesaw State: 52-6

North Dakota State: 53-12

Win: Lacey Gardner (25-3)

Loss: Julie Fromm (35-8)

Game 10 (Elimination Game) -- Alabama-Huntsville 8, California (PA) 2

Stephanie Barry had three hits, including an RBI-triple to spark a five-run seventh inning to break open a close game and eliminate the two-time defending champions. UAH took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, but solo home runs by Tracie Watts and Kate Vaughan in the bottom of the third put California ahead 2-1. In the top of the fifth, Barry doubled home the tying run and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to put Alabama-Huntsville ahead to stay. California threatened in the bottom of the fifth as Watts and Carlee Yaquinto opened the inning with back-to-back singles, but UAH pitcher Wendy Hurst used a fielder's choice, a strikeout and a ground out to get out of the inning. Hurst finished with a five-hitter. The Chargers broke the game open in the seventh as each of the first seven batters in the inning reached base. Brandi Brown's bases-loaded two-run single closed out the scoring. California finishes tied for fifth in the national finals.

Records:

Alabama-Huntsville: 62-11

California: 38-18

Win: Wendy Hurst (36-7)

Loss: Traci Watts (7-1)

Game 11 -- Humboldt State 3, Nebraska-Kearney 1

Terry Marroquin drove in all three runs and B.J. Helfrich scattered seven hits as Humboldt State remained the lone unbeaten team in the finals. Nebraska-Kearney took an early 1-0 lead as Darcie Berry led off the game with a double to center and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Humboldt State answered in the bottom of the first as Marroquin's two-out, two-run single gave the Lumberjacks a 2-1 lead. HSU added an insurance run in the bottom of the third as Marroquin singled home April Tursky, again with two outs. Nebraska-Kearney was unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities, leaving seven runners on base, including four in the first two innings. Helfrich struck out seven and walked one. UNK pitcher Amanda Kelly entered the game in the third inning and held Humboldt State scoreless over the final three-and-two-thirds innings. Humboldt State is now two wins away from winning its first ever national championship. Nebraska-Kearney joins Alabama-Huntsville and Kennesaw State with one loss.

Records:

Humboldt State: 53-7-1

Nebraska-Kearney: 38-3

Win: B.J. Helfrich (18-3)

Loss: Tina McCaslin (15-3)

Kennesaw State's Le Continues to Sizzle: Kennesaw State senior third baseman Kathy Le continues to be the story of this year's national finals. Le is 8-for-11 (.727) with three home runs, two doubles and seven runs batted in. Le, who bats leadoff for the Owls, homered in her very first at-bat of this year's finals and has doubled in her first at-bat in each of her last two games. Le, who is listed at exactly 5-feet tall, had only one career home run entering the tournament.

Alabama-Huntsville's Barry Makes the Right Move: Alabama-Huntsville centerfielder Stephanie Barry hit in the No. 8 spot in the Charger's first two games. Saturday against California (PA), she was the leadoff batter and went 3-for-4 with a triple, two doubles, three runs scored and two RBI. Her two doubles tie a single-game record in the championship series.

Birthday Present for UAH Twins: Alabama-Huntsville twin sisters Brandi Brown (second baseman) and Mandi Brown (right fielder) celebrated their birthday in a big way Saturday. Brandi's single plated two runs in the decisive seventh inning, while Mandi collected three RBI and robbed California of a base hit with a sliding, juggling catch in the sixth inning.

California Misses Bid for Third Consecutive Championship: California hoped to be the third team ever and the first since 1990 to win three consecutive national championships. Cal State Northridge (19833-85) and Cal State Bakersfield (1988-90) are the only two teams to win three consecutive Division II softball national championships.

Quotes of the Day:

"We've been flirting with putting something like that together all week." -- Alabama-Huntsville head coach Les Stuedeman on UAH's five-run seventh inning against California

"It's been an incredible feeling, a dream come true." -- California senior catcher Stephanie Bromhead on reaching the national finals in each of her four years.

"Lacey (Gardner) executed our game plan to the letter. Today's game was a case of a rookie pitcher stepping up and giving us a strong performance." -- Kennesaw State head coach Scott Whitlock

"When I was a freshman, I never would have expected to be here (at the national finals)." -- North Dakota State senior second baseman Megan Cooper

"I felt relaxed. I was probably more nervous in the seventh inning than in the beginning of the game." --Humboldt State pitcher B.J. Helfrich, who made her first appearance in the finals Saturday

"One of the biggest things will be to get away mentally from this loss." -- Nebraska-Kearney head coach Dan Simmons

Sunday's Schedule (all times Eastern)

Noon: Alabama-Huntsville vs. Nebraska-Kearney (Game 12 - elimination game)

2:30 p.m.: Humboldt State vs. Kennesaw State (Game 13)

7:30 p.m.: Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner