ST. JOSEPH, MO. - The Park University softball team began the 2013 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Park Bracket with a decisive 6-1 victory over Marian University behind a perfect day at the plate by junior Taylor Lipps Monday (May 13) at Heritage Park.
The junior from Grain Valley, Mo., finished the game 4-for-4 scoring twice while the No. 2 hitter Callie Beaver was 2-for-2 with two sacrifice hits.
Pirates' starting pitcher Kelli Wenberg settled in after putting runners on base early allowing one run on four hits with a career-high nine strikeouts improving to 8-3 on the season.
With the victory, Park advances to the winners bracket where it will face the winner of game two between Cal State San Marcos and Dickinson State Tuesday (May 14) at noon while Marian will play the loser at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Park (31-9 overall) threatened from the opening as Lipps started the game with a lead-off double into left center and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Beaver. Lipps would get no farther being thrown out at the plate on a double play by the Knights' left fielder Ebby Campbell.
Marion (31-10 overall) stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the first and had the bases loaded in the third but Wenberg pitched out of both jams making a tough over-the-shoulder catch ending the third to keep the game tied 0-0.
The Pirates capitalized on the defensive stand scoring the Opening Round Park Bracket's first run in the top of the fourth as Jamie Tanno started the frame with a single. Hannah Alpers pinch ran for the fellow senior and came around to score on a RBI single by Kim Breyfogle.
Park expanded its lead to 2-0 in the fifth as Lindsay Sumner hit a line drive double off the fence in left scoring Lipps, who led the inning with her third single of the game.
Lipps remained perfect on the day with her fourth hit, an RBI double in the sixth, as the Pirates broke the game open tacking on four runs off five hits for a commanding 6-0 advantage.
The Knights broke Wenberg's shutout in the sixth as Emily Gwaltney blasted her team-leading 15th home run of the season and the 51st of her career as the game closed 6-1.
Gwaltney (15-6) took the loss in the circle for Marian pitching 5 2/3 innings allowing all six runs (five earned) on 12 hits while Amy Tamer threw the final 1 1/3 innings.
For more information and an updated schedule for the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Park Bracket visit www.parkathletics.com.