UHV softball heading to the NAIA national championship

Jaguars capture RRAC championship

PINEVILLE, Louisiana – Going in, the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars were probably not picked by many to challenge for the Red River Athletic Conference softball challenge.

After going 8-10 in conference play and entering the tournament as the fifth seed, the Jaguars silenced the naysayers in capturing their second RRAC softball championship sweeping the top-seeded Texas A&M-Texarkana Eagles in the championship game for the title.

The Jaguars became the first RRAC team to win three games on championship Saturday since Houston Baptist turned the trick in 2006 and became the first fifth seed to win the tournament.

After dispatching Our Lady of the Lake 10-4 in an elimination game to reach the championship of the double-elimination tournament, the Jaguars swept both games against the undefeated Eagles. UHV took the opener 6-1 and then claimed the title with a 4-1 victory.

UHV (19-21) receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.

The Jaguars too advantage of timely hitting and some Eagles miscues to force the second game after scoring six unearned runs.

The Jaguars jumped on top of the Eagles in the opener with a three-run first inning as Lauren Caka drove home a run with a ground out and Brianna Leon plated two more with a single.

The Eagles tallied their lone run in the third, before the Jaguars answered back with three insurance runs in the sixth taking advantage of three A&M-Texarkana errors.

Michelle Kristoff went the distance for the Jaguars to earn the win as she allowed one run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven innings.

Leon, Ashley Reyna, Alexis Gonzalez, Krystal Rodriguez and Kaylle Acosta all had hits in the game for the Jaguars.

UHV struck first again in the second game as Reyna’s sacrifice fly plated Marissa Mendoza, who had singled.

The Eagles took their lone lead in the second with a pair of runs, but the Jaguars answered back with a three-run third and never trailed from that point.

Acosta opened the third with a single and moved up on a bunt single by Jessalyn Burkett, whom was pinch-hitting for Kelsey Tidrick. Acosta would score on a fielder’s choice by Jackie Longoria and Reyna would plate Tidrick and Longoria with a single.

Kristoff again earned the win as she worked four hitless and scoreless innings of relief as she retired 15 of the 16 batters she faced.

Kristoff was named the Pitcher of the Tournament, while Reyna was named the Player of the tournament, with Leon, Tidrick and Longoria picking up all-tournament recognition.