Central Methodist broke a tie ballgame in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three runs over the fourth and fifth innings to defeat Bellevue (Neb.) 5-2 on Tuesday in the semifinal round of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round in the Central Methodist Bracket at Cox Softball Complex.
Central Methodist (43-8) advances to the championship game of the Opening Round, which will be played at 1 pm. Thursday, and will again face Bellevue. The winner of the Central Methodist Bracket will advance to the NAIA Softball World Series, which will be held from May 22-28 in Sioux City, Iowa.
In the second game Tuesday, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) held off a late rally to beat Columbia (Mo.) 5-4. In the third and final game, Bellevue had its second walk-off win in as many days, defeating Cardinal Stritch 2-1 in eight innings to earn a rematch against Central Methodist.
Avila College’s 13-5 record in the Heart of America Athletic Conference gave them the most wins ever by an Avila team in HAAC play, and their 2nd place finish was their best finish since joining the conference.
The Eagles are the only team that qualified for the NAIA National Championship that did not have a senior on their roster, making them one of, if not the youngest team in the tournament.
Avila’s season came to an end with two losses on Tuesday, with the first loss coming against the reigning NAIA Pitcher of the Year and two-time All-American Nicole Nonnemacher and the St. Xavier, IL., Cougars in a 3-0 final. St. Xavier scored their first two runs of the game with an illegal ball that was not sanctioned by the NAIA and neither coach caught the error. Umpires noticed it was a batting practice ball after the inning.
In game two, Avila lost 6-1 to Corben, OR, ending the Eagles season with a record of 32-13.