UHV softball headed to NAIA World Series

Members of the UHV Jaguars softball team celebrate Wednesday after defeating Central Baptist University and advancing to their first NAIA Softball World Series.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The underdogs keep on rolling.

Jackie Longoria’s two-out, walk-off single has propelled the University of Houston-Victoria into their first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Softball World Series with a 2-1 win over Central Baptist (Ark.) on Wednesday at Joseph and Nancy Fail Field.

The Jaguars (22-21) came into the NAIA Opening Round Hattiesburg Bracket as the fourth seed and, just like in their conference tournament, came out the champions. UHV entered the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament as the fifth seed before claiming the title and advancing to the opening round.

The Jaguars now advance to the 40th annual NAIA World Series set for May 27 to June 2 in Columbus, Ga. Central Baptist ends the season at 34-15.

The Jaguars proved they were the best team in Hattiesburg as they defeated the other three teams in the bracket, all ranked in the top 25.

It took a dramatic finish for the Jaguars as they rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh to capture the championship undefeated.

Krystal Rodriguez drew a one-out walk to start the rally and then raced home on a double to right center by Kaylle Acosta to tie the game. After Acosta moved to third on the play at the plate on Rodriguez, Madysin Leighton came in to pinch run and score the winning run on Longoria’s infield single between short and third.

CBU looked like they might be able to get the game into extra innings when shortstop Allison Seats made a diving catch on a line drive by Kelsey Tidrick behind second to save the winning run from scoring. Marisa Mendoza then drew a walk and Longoria came through with her magic to win the game.

Alexis Gonzalez paced the Jaguars’ offense with two hits, while Mendoza, Longoria and Acosta each had one hit.

Cameron Cowan went the distance in the circle to earn the win and improve to 11-6 on the year as she allowed one run on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts.

The only run CBU managed against Cowan came in the first inning on an RBI double by Seats. CBU would only get two runners past first from that point against Cowan.

The Jaguars, winners of 12 of their last 13 games, will take an eight-game win streak into the World Series.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paul Ebner