May 23, 2001

Union University Softball Finishes Third in NAIA World Series


Jackson, Tenn.óThe Union University Lady Bulldogs reached the final day of the NAIA Softball World Series in Decatur, Ala. on Tuesday when Union, along with Simon Fraser University and Oklahoma City University, were left to battle for the 2001 title. The Lady Bulldogs, in their second appearance in three seasons, had cruised through to championship day by winning four of the five games played in this double-elimination tournament. Earlier this month, Union had been crowned the NCCAA National Championships by defeating East Texas Baptist University.

Union opened the final day of the tournament by once again taking on Simon Fraser of British Columbia, Canada in the loserís bracket finals. The Clan had given Union their only loss a day earlier and now the Lady Bulldogs would have their opportunity for redemption. However, Union again fell to Simon Fraser in a 4-0 shutout when the Lady Bulldogs gave up two runs in both the third and fifth innings. Union scattered three hits in the game off of Simon Fraser pitcher Erin Thomas, but could not score. Union would end its national title run by finishing third in the World Series. The Lady Bulldogs closed out with a record of 63-8, the best in the nation and a new school record for wins in a season. Unionís No. 2 ranking in the NAIA polls was the highest ever ranking for the softball program.

The Lady Bulldogs were very well represented in the NAIA with their post-season honors. Leading the list of winners, Union junior Rachel Murray, from Herrin, Ill. was selected the NAIAís Pitcher of the Year as she finished the season with a record of 34-5 with a miniscule 0.37 earned run average and collected 369 strikeouts with only 54 walks in 268.1 innings pitched. She threw eight no-hitters including her latest coming against the University of Mobile in the World Series, and her opponents hit an almost non-existent .092 against Murray this season. Joining Murray on the NAIA All-Tournament team was junior catcher Ame Clapsaddle, from Manchester, Tenn. who hit .394 on the season with 26 doubles, 12 homeruns, and 79 RBI. Clapsaddle collected eight RBI during the tournament, two RBI shy of the tournament record. Union also had three First Team All-Americans and one Second Team All-American. Murray, Clapsaddle, and senior Jennifer Sabourin were named to the first team. Sabourin was named TranSouth Conference Player of the Year this season while leading the league with a .424 average. She also tallied 21 doubles, 7 homeruns, and 68 RBI. Making the Second Team NAIA All-American was freshman pitcher Leah Gronberg, from College Station, Texas. Gronberg finished 29-3 on the season with an impressive 0.94 earned run average and recorded 188 strikeouts and 45 walks in 208.2 innings pitched. All four of these Lady Bulldogs add these All-American honors to their All-Region and All-Conference selections. Union also placed two Lady Bulldogs on the NAIA Scholar Athlete list, as seniors Lori Neal and Michelle Gardner made the selection. Neal, from Mansfield, Tenn. graduated with a 3.509 GPA in Art while playing first base for the Lady Bulldogs this season. While being Unionís everyday second baseman, Gardner, from Metamora, Ill. has accumulated a 3.55 GPA in Sports Medicine.

The 2001 season would truly be a record setting year as the Lady Bulldogs either set or tied 20 school records. Union also had 11 individual records broken during the season. Clapsaddle set new records with 26 doubles, 12 homeruns, and 79 runs batted in. Shortstop Brandi Park, from Checotah, Okla. set a new record with her 63 runs scored this season. Park, along with seniors Jennifer Sabourin and Johnna Porter, and junior Rachel Murray all tied the school record with 71 games played this season. Murray set new pitching records for wins in a season with 34, appearances with 42, games started with 41, innings pitched with 268.1, and strikeouts with 369.

President David Dockery praised the Lady Bulldogs for their outstanding season. "These fine young ladies have represented Union well on the field and off. They typify Unionís commitment to Christ-Centered excellence in academics and athletics."


Media Contact:  Steven Aldridge
Phone:  (901) 661-5027
Fax:  (901) 661-5182

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