Randall drives one out for grand slam to notch 6-2 win for Humboldt St.
CARSON, Calif. –- Sophomore Dani Randall drove a pitch over the right field fence for a grand slam in the top of the seventh to give Humboldt State plenty of insurance runs in its 6-2 win against Dominguez Hills to win the West Region championship on Saturday.
The Lumberjacks (52-12) advance to the NCAA Softball National Championships to be held May 23-27 in Salem, Va. It will be Humboldt's sixth trip to the national championships. The team has won the national title twice (1999 and 2008).
“I was talking to a couple of our players in the top of the seventh, telling them that 2-1 was making me nervous, and we needed to score more runs,” Randall said. “When I hit the grand slam, I was doing what I said we needed to do. [Stephanie] Jimenez came in and all she did was pitch me outside, outside. I just stepped through, and it happened. I saw Chrissy [Stalf] at second look at it and throw her hand up, and I was, like, 'Thank God it went over.' “
“It went over all right,” HSU head coach Frank Cheek said. “We keep hitting the ball over the fence. That's the easiest way to do it.”
Randall's slam was her 13th home run of the season, and the team's 10th grand slam. Earlier in the game Julie Pena hit a solo homer for her 12th home run of the season. Humboldt has 111 this year – tops in the nation and one shy of the NCAA single-season record set by Metro State in 2010.
“I've been to the national tournament a number of times and generally we bring a short game with us, similar to what San Diego plays,” Cheek said. “And in the past we have come face-to-face with the long ball hitters. This time we're coming with the long ball hitters. It's a little different scenario. We don't have a short game. Why bunt them over when we can hit them over?”
The Jacks will be coming face-to-face with some long ball hitters in their first game. Texas Woman's features Katie Hines, the player Chrissy Stalf has been going back-and-forth all season as the nation's top home run hitter. Stalf has 27 home runs and Hines has 25. Jordan Readicker is another slugger for the Pioneers. She has 21 home runs.
“I am ready to play against Katie Hines,” Stalf said. “She is a good player. I am looking forward to facing her. Hopefully we can keep her from hitting any home runs. This is the best feeling. This is how I wanted to end my senior year, and we are ending it in Virginia. We can't ask for a better way to go out.”
Katie Obbema (27-3) got the win for the Jacks, pitching a complete game six-hitter. She gave up a pair of infield singles and a bloop hit in the third that tied the game at 1 all.
Tonya Walker had an RBI single for the Jacks in the fifth to score Megan Wink who had doubled, giving HSU the 2-1 lead that was kept in place until Randall's slam in the seventh. The Toros Adriana Sanchez hit a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh but Obbema got the next three hitters, ending the game with a called strike three on Brittany Brenner.
It is Humboldt's sixth West Regional championship (1994, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2008, 2013).