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Cathi Aradi

Bethel, Lubbock Christian Undefeated On First Day of NAIA Leadoff Classic

 Defending NAIA Champion Lubbock Christian and Bethel College each posted a pair of victories in Thursday’s action at the NFCA NAIA Leadoff Classic at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach, Fla. 

Lubbock Christian opened tournament play with a 5-2 win over Morningside in 11 a.m. play. Morningside’s Kendra Klein belted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, but the Chaparrals stormed back with a three-spot in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good. Designated player Kelly Griego went 3-for-3 in the game with two RBI and a double, while 1B Amanda Parsons went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a double. Shortstop Raquel Hawkins provided the final RBI of the game for Lubbock Christian, going 2-for-4 with a run scored in the game. Each of the top five hitters in the LCU lineup had a run scored in the contest. 

In the Chaparrals nightcap, single runs in the third and fourth innings led LCU to a 2-0 victory over Olivet Nazarene. Ginalee Davis went 2-for-3 in the game, providing two of the team’s five hits. RBIs from Hawkins and centerfielder Jade Espinoza provided plenty of support for pitcher Kelly Griego, who pitched a three-hit shutout with seven strikeouts. 

For Bethel, the day opened with a 3-0 victory over William Penn. Pitcher Rachel Zirille tossed a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts, while Katie Boocher, Emily Perrenot and Mandy Cripe each recording RBI in the game. In their second game of the day, the Eagles posted a 4-1 win over Morningside. Bethel pounded out nine hits in the victory. Katie Boocher went 2-for-2 on the day with an RBI, while Cripe continued her hot streak, going 3-for-3 with a run scored. Pitcher Brittney Hire struck out six for the win. 

In the first run-rule game of the tournament, Notre Dame College trounced Milligan by a 9-1 margin in five innings in the second game of the day for both teams. The Blue Falcons pounded out nine runs on nine hits, a double and a triple by third baseman Anna Ball. Pitcher Meredith Harbarger pitched around six hits, striking out two for the win. 

Play continues at Frank Brown Park on Friday with 16 games scheduled. First pitch is at 11 a.m. and the final set of four games kicks off at 6:30 p.m.