Trevecca takes two arms, a healthy hand into NAIA softball national championship

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 11:19pm

Trevecca Nazrene’s softball team relied on two good arms to get through the season.

Now it has four healthy hands to go along with them as it begins play at the NAIA Softball Chmpionships on Thursday.

Sophomore pitcher Riley Mashburn sustained an injury to her non-throwing hand before a pair of critical late-season doubleheaders in April, but pitched anyway. She still earned the second of her two conference Pitcher of the Week awards on May 5 following the Lady Trojans’ victory in the TranSouth Conference tournament.

Mashburn was not one of the five TNU players who earned first-team all-conference honors, though. The team’s other pitcher, sophomore Lauren Baker, was.

Mashburn has a 22-7 record with a 1.96 ERA and 160 strikeouts. Baker has a 19-8 mark with a 1.70 ERA and 206 strikeouts. Mashburn started 29 times, which was two more than Baker.

“Me or Lauren pitch every game,” Mashburn said. “We feel a lot of teams have one pitcher having a good game, but we have to constantly do that.”

Trevecca, ranked No. 17 in the NAIA, begins pool play with a 9 a.m. game against Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design. Its second game is 3 p.m. Friday against Notre Dame (Ohio), and TNU concludes the first segment of the event 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Lee University.

Lee, which features pitcher Johana Gomez, a Venezuelan Olympian, is the top seed in the pool.

“SCAD’s got a really strong team, they get a lot of transfers and international players,” Trevecca coach Ben Tyree said. “When we went to Gulf Shores (for a tournament) I talked to Lee’s coach, she recruits a lot in this area. They have a strong pitcher [Johana Gomez], she’s the real deal.”

This is the fourth time Trevecca has advanced to the national championship tournament. All three previous times (2006, 07 and 08) it went 3-1 in pool play and advanced to the eight-team championship bracket.

The team made a list of goals at the start of this season. Players and coaches have checked off the early ones such as a winning season and a TransSouth Championship.

There isn’t much left to accomplish, and they believe they have enough healthy hands to grab the program’s first national championship.