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ETBU Claims 2024 NCAA Division III Softball National Championship

June 5, 2024

On the final day of the NCAA Division III Softball National Championship on the campus of East Texas Baptist University, No. 2-seeded ETBU erupted for 17 runs, including five home runs securing the program's second national championship. With the wins Wednesday at Jason Bell Park at Taylor Field, it is the first time in modern-day history that a team has hosted and won the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. In the opening game, ETBU defeated No. 6 seeded Belhaven 8-2 to force a decisive 'if' game, where they clinched the title with a 9-5 victory, powered by three home runs. 

"This has been a special group, and they have had fun and played hard all year, and I am so incredibly proud of them. Winning a national championship is something special, but what is more special is the women they are. Their identity is not in this sport but in Christ; that's what really matters and has been their focus all year. Winning a Championship is special; this group is something special, and I am proud of them," ETBU Head Softball Coach Janae Shirley said.

By winning two elimination games to clinch the national championship, ETBU concluded the season with a program-best 48 victories. After a narrow 4-3 loss to the Blazers on Tuesday night, the Tigers needed consecutive wins against Belhaven to secure the title. On Wednesday afternoon, they showed out in front of the hometown crowd by displaying their exceptional talent and proving themselves as the nation's best team.

"I keep going back to our first team meeting and the experience of watching other teams win a national championship on our field, and that was a motivating factor for us as we felt we have the talent and the ability to be in that spot and win that championship and that was our goal from the beginning," Shirley said.

ETBU showcased their offensive prowess with 21 hits, 17 runs, and nine extra-base hits, including five home runs. Tristen Maddox was named Tournament MVP, hitting .333 with eight RBIs, two home runs, four stolen bases, and outstanding defense at shortstop. Tauryn Cummings earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, hitting .500 with two crucial home runs. Izabella Morales led the team in batting for the tournament with a .444 average and an RBI on championship day. Avery Holland rounded out the All-Tournament team, finishing with a 3-1 record, a 1.96 ERA, and eight strikeouts, including the national championship win.

Mary Frances Ellis led the team for the day, going 4-for-6 with three runs scored and a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases. Maddox followed with a 3-for-5 performance, including a double, a home run, and four RBIs. Cummings went 3-for-6 with two home runs and two RBIs. Izabella Morales hit .429, while Haylie Stum batted .375 with a home run and three RBIs.

Madalyn Melton secured the win in game one, striking out four and allowing just two earned runs on five hits, improving her record to 7-1 for the year. She also hit a home run in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 6-1. In game two, Melton started and pitched two innings before Avery Holland took over. Holland pitched the remaining innings, earning her 16th win with three strikeouts and two earned runs over five innings.

This victory marks ETBU's second national championship, with their first win in 2010. They finished the season with a 28-1 record at Jason Bell Park at Taylor Field and set a program record with a 23-game winning streak.