May 18, 2003
SALEM, Ore. - Behind two home runs and four hits from senior Susan Churchwell and a four-hitter from junior pitcher Amy Rosson on Sunday evening, UC Davis beat Georgia College and State University, 7-0, at the Wallace Sports Complex, winning the school's first-ever NCAA Division II Softball Championship.
UC Davis completed a five-game unbeaten run through the eight-team field over the past four days, finishing its last season at the Division II level with a 53-15 record, setting a school record for wins. The Lady Bobcats, making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, finished 42-9.
"There are no words to describe the feeling," said UC Davis coach Kathy DeYoung. "It's a dream come true, especially with this team. I've been saying it all along they have been one of the most special teams. It's been a wonderful experience through the whole season."
UC Davis delivered the 25th-year head coach her first national championship with a convincing win over GC&SU, a team the Aggies beat on Saturday evening, 4-1.
Churchwell went 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs in the championship game, just a few hours after her walk-off home run against defending champion St. Mary's, gave the Aggies a 5-3 win in eight innings.
Churchwell was named the tournament's MVP after finishing the day 6-for-7 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
"I don't think I've ever had a day like this," said Churchwell. "Everything else pales in comparison."
The Lady Bobcats advanced to the title game with a 2-0 win over North Dakota State on Sunday afternoon and needed to beat UC Davis twice in order to win the championship. However, the Aggies scored twice in both the third and fourth innings to take a 4-0 lead, enough of an advantage for Rosson who won her fourth game of the tournament.
Rosson didn't allow a run, scattering four hits - two of them in the seventh inning - while striking out eight and walking none. Earlier Sunday she pitched 4.2 innings of relief, helping the Aggies stay in the game against St. Mary's after trailing, 3-0. She finished the day with 11.2 innings of shutout softball, collecting 15 strikeouts and only walking two.
Rosson, named Wednesday as a third-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, didn't allow an earned run in 28.2 innings during the tournament, while finishing with 45 strikeouts. She finished her year with a 29-8 record, while dominating the national championship tournament.
Knotted in a scoreless tie in the third inning against GC&SU, UC Davis broke through with a pair of runs in the third against starter Jennifer Joiner. Left-fielder Jennifer Borrelli walked and stole second, and with one out was brought around on Churchwell's blast to center field.
Leading by four runs in the sixth, the Aggies put the game out of reach when Churchwell led off with a towering home run to right off reliever Brook Harrison, her 16th of the season. After a double by catcher Megan Turman, third baseman Lindsay Moore capped the Aggies' offensive punch with a two-run shot to left that put the Aggies in front, 7-0.
Rosson was able to hold the Lady Bobcats in check in the bottom of the seventh inning, and when catcher Rebecca Heinicka's sinking liner was caught by a charging Emily Hetzner in center field, UC Davis turned its 13th NCAA Playoff appearance into its first-ever softball national championship.
"I don't think it's really going to sink in for another day or two," said DeYoung. "You couldn't have scripted it any better."
Churchwell, one of four seniors on the team, was also in disbelief following the program's historic win.
"It still hasn't sunk in that we're national champions," she said. "This is the perfect way to end a career."
Besides Rosson and Churchwell, the Aggies place outfielder Michelle Malbon and Borrelli on the all-tournament team.
UC Davis had 14 hits in the game, including two by Moore - who also had two RBIs - and a pair each by Roark and Sevier who tripled and doubled, respectively.
The NCAA Championship is the seventh for UC Davis and the fourth for a women's team, following the rowing team's title last year. The Aggies were playing in their fifth NCAA Finals tournament, finishing third each of the previous four times, most recently in 2000.