By Steve Johnson
ST. GEORGE, Utah – Salt Lake (UT) Community College lead-off hitter Malia Campos legged out an inside-the-park grand slam home run in the top of the 12th inning to help lead her #2-seeded Bruins to a hard-fought 8-5 victory over the #5-seed Pima Aztecs in the semifinal game of the 2013 NJCAA Division I Women's Softball National Championship tournament Saturday morning at the Canyons Complex.
Pima finished its season with a 50-19 record and a third-place overall finish at the national tournament.
Salt Lake opened the scoring in the third inning as Maddy Woodard singled in a run to give the Bruins a 1-0 advantage. Meanwhile, Bruin starter MaCauley Flint was sharp in the early going, holding the high-powered Pima offense to just one hit over the first five innings.
However the Lions solved MaCauley in the sixth, pushing across the tying run on a sacrifice fly plated Gemma Contreras, who doubled to lead off the frame.
Both teams battled through the next three scoreless innings, until Salt Lake was able to break through with a pair of runs on an infield sacrifice fly and a Lion error to lead 3-1. However the Aztecs answered with two runs on their own in the bottom of the frame to tie it at 3-3. Pima designated player Victoria Mariscal opened the frame with a double, which was followed by an error and a sacrifice to put runners at second and third with one out. Cynthia Pelayo flew out to left field for an apparent sacrifice fly, but the Bruin outfielder threw through to home and the ball got away from Salt Lake catcher Susan Duke, which brought home both runs and extended the game.
Salt Lake came back with another run in the 11th as the Bruin infielder Lyndsey Healy successfully laid down a suicide-squeeze bunt, but again the Aztecs wouldn't be denied as Pima manufactured another run in its half of the frame to tie the game at 4-4 to force another inning.
The Bruins finally pulled away in the 12th frame as the SLCC opened the frame with consecutive singles. After a one-out walk to Flint to load the bases, Campos lined a 1-0 pitch passed the dive of Aztec left fielder Shawna Comeaux, who could not keep the ball in front of her as it bounded toward the outfield fence. The speedy Campos cleared the bases and reached home before the ball could get back into the infield to give Salt Lake a commanding 8-4 advantage.
Pima would rally for a run in its final at-bat, but Flint ended any hope of an Aztec comeback by retiring the final two batters she would face to close out the game.
Flint threw 181 pitches in the complete game victory, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits with five strikeouts. Campos finished with four hits and three runs scored to go with her grand slam.
Aztec hurler Yvette Alvarez also went the distance (170 pitches), striking out nine but was touched up for 16 hits and eight runs. Contreras led Pima with three hits and two runs scored.