Eagles News
Softball - Fri, Jun. 21, 2013
Concordia claimed their first NAIA National Championship in 2013 (Columbus, GA)
Concordia claimed their first NAIA National Championship in 2013 (Columbus, GA)

It's been quite a ride these last two seasons for the Concordia softball team.  They have spent the majority of the two years ranked number one in the country, but success among the nation's elite was always something that had escaped the Eagles.

A perfect 4-0 run through the NAIA Final Site in 2013 vanquished all that history and earned the Eagles their first NAIA National Championship in program history.  The Eagles broke about every record in the books in 2012 and the 2013 squad came in and finished the job, claiming the ultimate team goal.

Crystal Rosenthal of Concordia (Calif.) has been honored as the 2013 NAIA Softball National Coach of the Year, the national office announced Friday. In her five years as head coach, Rosenthal has led the Eagles to four NAIA National Championship tournaments, culminating with the first national championship title in school history in 2013.  She is the first Concordia coach in program history to earn the award.

"This award honors our program, team, and coaching staff," said Rosenthal. "We've had an outstanding two years and it's been a lot of work, but it wouldn't be possible without the support of our administration and athletic department. Our coaching staff has put in countless hours with me, and this team, and they love this program. I really appreciate this award and I am excited for the program."

A four-year player at Concordia, Rosenthal has established a tradition of winning at her alma mater.  She has won at least 40 games in each of her five seasons as head coach, including 50-win seasons in 2012 and 2013. Rosenthal has also been named the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Coach of the Year in each of the past two seasons.

The Eagles compiled a 52-3 record en route to the national championship this year, earning their second consecutive GSAC title and winning their second straight GSAC/Cal-Pac Conference Tournament Championship along the way. Over the past two seasons, the Eagles have amassed a 108-7 record, winning an NAIA softball record 44 consecutive games during that span.

Concordia finished the season ranked #1 in the country after their 8-3 win over Spring Hill (AL) in the NAIA National Championship on May 30 in Columbus, GA.  The Eagles became the first team since 2009 to head into the national championship ranked No. 1 and win the title – California Baptist accomplished this in 2009.  Concordia is the unanimous No. 1 selection with 20 votes and 560 total points. The Eagles rattled through the National Championship final site with four wins and finished the year 52-3 overall. The .945 win percentage is the highest for a team with 50-plus games played since Central Baptist (Ark.) posted a .981 clip in 2010 (52-1).  The nine-straight No. 1 rankings for Concordia (Calif.) is the longest stretch for any program since former member California Baptist rattled through all nine polls in 2011.  No. 1 Concordia (Calif.) has now held the No. 1 position in 15 of the last 17 polls dating back to the 2012 season.  This year, two teams held the No. 1 ranking: Cal State San Marcos (1) and Concordia (9)

FINAL NAIA TOP 25

Concordia had three NAIA All-Americans in 2013, including NAIA Pitcher of the Year Katie Cotta, Second Team All-American Shainna Groom, and Honorable Mention All-American Jasmin Dresser.

NAIA All-AMERICANS

GSAC and NAIA Pitcher of the Year Katie Cotta led the GSAC with a 0.400 ERA and 333 strikeouts.  She also set an NAIA season record with 11 no-hitters.  Cotta was a two-time All-GSAC selection in her two years at Concordia and two-time GSAC Pitcher of the Year.  She was second in the nation in ERA, was second in strikeouts, fifth with only 10 earned runs allowed, and sixth with a 27-2 record.  She was a three-time GSAC Pitcher of the Week and two-time NAIA Pitcher of the Week winner.  On the Concordia career lists she is first in ERA (.66), first in no-hitters with 15, first in shutouts (27), second in strikeouts (578), fourth in wins (47), ninth in games started (50), sixth in complete games (41), ninth in innings pitched (307.1), and first in winning percentage (.940).  She has single-season records in shutouts with 17, wins with 27, and strikeouts at 333.  She set a single-game record in strikeouts this season with 17 against Biola.  In 2013 she ranked fifth in appearances (32), third in games started (27), fourth in complete games (23), sixth in innings pitched (177), sixth in winning percentage (.931), second in ERA (.40), and first with two scoreless innings streak, one of 45 and one of 42.  She holds the Concordia career record with 15 no-hitters in two seasons.  She goes down as arguably the best pitcher in Concordia history, even though she was only with the Eagles for two seasons.

"This is a dream come true to end as a champion," Katie Cotta said.  "I couldn't ask for anything more from my two years at Concordia.  I am so blessed to be here and we couldn't have done it without our coaches."

Senior second baseman Shainna Groom earned her first All-GSAC nod and first NAIA All-American honor in her fourth season with the Eagles.  She was 10th in the nation in RBI at 65 and 39th with 70 hits.  Groom was second in the conference in average at .427, second in slugging at .713, third in hits, first in RBI, eighth in doubles with nine, fifth in triples with two, and second in home runs with 10.  She had stolen nine bases.  Groom finished sixth on the single-season home run list with 11 and second in RBI with 65.  On the career lists she is 10th with a .360 batting average and 10th with 14 home runs.

"What a way to end it," Shainna Groom said.  "I'm sad it's over, but it has been an amazing ride."

Freshman Jasmin Dresser was the GSAC Player of the Year and an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in her first year with the Eagles.  She hit .443, drove in 24 runs, hit ten doubles, and blasted three home runs.

The Eagles went a perfect 16-0 in the GSAC enroute to their second-straight GSAC Championship, after not winning any since 1990.  Head coach Crystal Rosenthal is currently second all-time in school history with 238 wins and first with a .796 winning percentage. 

Senior pitcher Courtney Young finishes her four-year career eighth in career appearances (68), seventh in starts (55), sixth in shutouts (17), 10th in innings pitched (305), seventh in strikeouts (229), fourth in wins (47), third in winning percentage (.904), and third in ERA (1.17).  In 2013 on the single-season lists she was eighth in shutouts (6), fifth in winning percentage (.933), and first in ERA (.26).

Four-year senior Bryana Simpson finished her career fourth with 216 games played, fifth in home runs (22), and eighth in stolen bases (37). 

"Last game, win in the championship, that's textbook on how to end it," Bryana Simpson said.  "We all bought into everything the coaches told us."

In three seasons junior Jenna Jorgenson is already one of the best hitters in Concordia history.  For the time being, on the career lists she is fourth in batting average (.395), second in runs (151), fourth in hits (216), third in doubles (47), third in triples (14), fifth in home runs (22), second in RBI (155), third in extra base hits (83), and third in total bases (357).  In 2013, on the single-season lists she was seventh in runs (52), second in doubles (19), fifth in home runs (12), fifth in RBI (60), fifth in extra base hits (33), and seventh in total bases (126).

Junior catcher Emily Craig is currently ninth on the career home run list (15) and seventh in walks (61).  In 2013 she was sixth in home runs (11) and eighth in RBI (46).  Sophomore pitcher Brittan McGue is second all-time with a .909 winning percentage in two seasons (20-2).  Sophomore Chanele Dresser is currently eighth with a .388 batting average in two seasons.  Junior Annette Merjano hit nine home runs in 2013, eighth on the single-season rankings.  Morgan Reiter drew 28 walks in 2013, while Caitrin Debaun drew 24, good for fifth and seventh on the single-season lists, respectively.  Chanele Dresser stole 18 bases, good for ninth.  Craig had a 16-game hitting streak, while Debaun had one of 15, good for third and fifth.

The Eagles had to find their footing early, losing in their third game of the season to #9 Oregon Tech, and losing to Southern Oregon the next day on their trip to Redding, CA for the Simpson Tournament.  Those would account for two of CU's three total losses on the year.  They defeated #17 Corban 1-0 on February 8, and left Northern California with a 6-2 record.  Following the trip, they did not lose until March 30, accounting for 29-straight wins.  Over that stretch the Eagles pitched 19 shutouts and won in less than seven innings 16 times. 

After the 2-1 loss to Simpson on March 30, the Eagles finished the season with 18 straight wins.  On Senior Day on April 16 they defeated Arizona Christian in two run-rule games to win the GSAC with an unblemished record.  They hosted the GSAC/Cal-Pac Conference Tournament for the second straight year, April 25-27, claiming the title with three straight wins, including the final two over Simpson.

In its first year of existence in softball, Concordia hosted an NAIA Opening Round, May 13-15, welcoming College of Idaho, Bethany (KS), and St. Gregory's (OK).  On the second day Concordia pushed through a 1-0 win over College of Idaho, and cruised in their other two contests to the Opening Round title.  Concordia headed to the Final Site for the first time in school history.

The Eagles opened play at the NAIA Final Site in Columbus, GA on May 25, holding off a charge from #8 Reinhardt (GA), 7-6.  They pounded NAIA-power #4 Oklahoma City 8-0 in six innings on May 27.  The next day they clawed to a 1-0 win over #10 Spring Hill (AL) in the NAIA Semifinals.  On May 30, Spring Hill was back out of the loser's bracket to face the Eagles again.  After giving up two early runs, a five-run inning fueled Concordia to an 8-3 win and their first NAIA National Championship in school history.  CU rode the arm of Katie Cotta through the whole tournament, as she won all four games.

Cotta, Caitrin Debaun, Hannah Howell, and Jenna Jorgenson were all voted to the All-Championship team.  Debaun was selected as the Championship Most Valuable Player.  They are the first Eagles in program history to win any of the awards.

CU must say goodbye to seniors Breanan SilzerKatie Cotta, Morgan ReiterShainna GroomCourtney Young, and Bryana Simpson, all important cogs in building this program.  No questions remain about the validity of Concordia's near two-year sweep of the #1 ranking.  The Eagles came to Columbus as the favorite and played that way, loading the hardware back to Irvine, CA.  The Eagles had already established themselves as the West Coast power in the NAIA, add the other 49 states to that resume as well. 

The National Championship win capped a season where Concordia claimed three National Titles (women's volleyball, men's volleyball).  Concordia University becomes one of the rare schools in the NAIA with spring National Championships in baseball and softball.​  The Eagles were dominant once they caught their wind leaving Redding in 2013.  They traveled to Columbus, GA and erased any doubts.

 

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