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Cathi Aradi

Top Seed Shocked in Opening-Day Action at NJCAA Championship

Louisburg upset top-seeded Temple Community College 4-3 to highlight Thursday’s opening day of action at the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Division I women’s softball national championship being played at the world headquarters of the International Softball Federation (ISF). 

The Leopards stayed alive in the double-elimination tournament with a dramatic 1-0, 14-inning win over eighth-seeded North Idaho College (Coeur d’Alene, ID) that knocked the Cardinals out after an afternoon, 1-0 loss to ninth-seeded Odessa College (Odessa, TX). 

Odessa was victorious in both of its Day 1 outings by shutout, taking a 9-0 win over Louisburg behind a six-run fourth inning and designated hitter Laura Perales, who went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. 

The extra inning game saw a two-out base hit by Kami Crane with runners on first and second base make the difference in Temple staying alive. 

The other big story was Eastern Oklahoma State College (Wilburton, OK) pitcher Marjorie Johnson setting a new NJCAA record for strikeouts in a season as her No, 7 Lady Mountaineers team defeated 10th-rated Blinn College (Brenham, TX) 4-1. Johnson struck out 13 batters to raise her season total to 460, breaking the previous mark of 454 set by Central Florida Community College’s Kristen Keyes in 2001. 

Elsewhere, No. 2 seed Indian River Community College got solo home runs from right fielder Kim Jalm and left fielder Marcy White to defeat No. 15 Central Alabama Community College (Alexander City, AL) 2-0. Winning pitcher Lisa Newman threw a complete game one-hitter, striking out 16. 

Indian River kept the undefeated mark intact with a 4-2 win over Eastern Oklahoma. Right fielder Kim Jalm hit a home run for the Pioneers, who never trailed in the game. Pitcher Elizabeth Gosby posted 10 strikeouts in picking up the victory. 

No. 3 Gulf Coast Community College (Panama City, FL) gave the fans a show in their game this morning against #14 Lake Land (Mattoon, IL). The Lady Commodores backed up their high ranking by rebounding from a 5-1 deficit to down the Lakers, 9-5. 

Gulf Coast put up nine runs again in its second win of the day, this time winning by seven runs over Southeastern. Right fielder Yusmary Perez went 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored to set up a Friday match-up with Indian River. 

A run in the top of the ninth inning sent 12th-seeded Jefferson College (Hillsboro, MO) past No. 5 Otero Junior College (La Junta, CO) 1-0. Designated hitter Lauren Dunn drove in Brandi Mayer, and the defense held off the Rattlers in the bottom half of the inning for the win. Ally DeFosset pitched all nine innings and struck out 12 for the victory. 

Earlier in the afternoon, 11th-seeded Southeastern Community College (West Burlington, IA) defeated No. 6 Chattanooga State Technical Community College (Chattanooga, TN) 4-1 in a game that had been tied 1-1 after five innings. 

Chattanooga bounced back from its opening-round loss to Southeastern with a 7-6 victory over Lake Land in an elimination contest. Chattanooga trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, when it scored three times to rally for the win and stave off elimination. 

Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ), who prevented last year’s champions (Central Arizona College) from coming to this year’s national championship, continued its winning ways by starting off the tournament with a 5-2 win over No. 13 Darton College (Albany, GA). The fourth-seeded Aztecs were led by right fielder Ashley Aldrich, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in and a run scored. 

Pima’s play was even stronger in the second outing, an 8-0 win over Jefferson backed by a five-run third. The win sends the Aztecs to a Friday showdown with Odessa after three-RBI performances from Cyndi Duran and Kelly Nielson. 

Darton was eliminated after losing in the bottom of the seventh inning 2-1 to Otero. Winning pitcher Casey Thompson surrendered just two hits in a complete game performance. 

The night ended with Blinn posting a 6-1 triumph that eliminated Central Alabama. The Buccaneers move on to face Louisburg. 

The event, which runs through Saturday, is being played in Plant City Stadium and the adjacent Randy L. Larson Softball Fourplex, which will also host the tournament in May 2007 and May 2008. 

Four games will take place at 12 Noon tomorrow, followed by three at 2 p.m., one at 4:00 (in the stadium), two at 6:00, and one at 8 p.m. (in the stadium).