The Angelina College Lady Roadrunners softball team are the national champions!  They won the NJCAA title in Utah on Saturday afternoon by defeating Central Florida 8-5. 

The Lady 'Runners had a chance to claim the title in their first game of the day, but Central Florida shut down the AC bats en route to a 6-2 victory, forcing the 2nd and deciding game.

That set up a winner-take-all showdown in the nightcap, forcing AC head coach Mark Mattson to make some adjustments: In the title game, the Lady Roadrunners utilized more small ball than they did all season, bunting their way to several base hits while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive.

“I had to do something I don’t normally like to do, which is bunt,” Mattson said. “But we had to get the ball in play somehow and force the defense to make plays until our bats came around.”

They came around with Melissa Boland’s three-run blast far over the left-field wall in the third inning, leading to four runs in the frame and a 5-0 AC lead. Boland would drive in another run in the fourth, giving her four RBI for the game. Boland, one of the team’s two sophomores playing in her last game as a Lady Roadrunner, said it was the philosophy of “Sight, Feel, Yes” that got her through the pressure.

“We weren’t down after the first game at all,” Boland said. “We were focused on ‘Sight, Feel, Yes’ which is picturing the ball coming in, feel how you would hit it, and yes, it’s gone.”

Sage Martinez and Madalyn Sumrall – named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player – drove in runs in the fourth inning. Sumrall would add another RBI with a fifth-inning double; the freshman from Mont Belvieu earned her MOP honors by hitting .536 for the tournament.

Still, Central Florida refused to allow the Lady Roadrunners an early celebration. With AC leading 8-1 in the fifth and needing a single run for a mercy-rule victory, the Patriots managed to gun down Katelyn Barker at the plate to deny what would have been the walk-off winner.

The Patriots then forced an agonizing next three innings for AC fans. Cheyenne Blaha blasted a solo homer – teammate Amy Szymanowski nailed a solo shot earlier – and Lindsey O’Steen scored on an error to cut the Lady ‘Runner lead to 8-3 in the sixth. In the seventh, O’Steen rocked a two-run shot to bridge the gap to 8-5, and the Patriots managed to load the bases with two outs.

But AC pitcher Samantha Moore – named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher – got a popup to Sage Martinez at shortstop, and the celebration was on.

Moore, Sumrall, Boland, Taylor Harper and Katelyn Barker were named to the All-Tournament Team following the game.

(Thanks to story contributions by Gary Stallard, AC SID)

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