Brenna Sandberg had her work cut out for her in the circle Saturday, but came through in the clutch to help lead Cal State-San Marcos to the Association of Independent Institutions softball championship.
Sandberg suffered her only loss in the tournament dropping a 5-4 decision to Simon Fraser to force a deciding second game. Sandberg found her dominance in game two tossing a five-hit shutout in a 9-0 win.
Both CSUSM (38-14) and Simon Fraser (19-14) earned berths to the NAIA National Championships.
Sandberg, who was named outstanding player of the tournament, worked out of several jams in game two, including a bases-loaded situation in the seventh as she got Stefani Durrant on a third called strike to end the game.
The Cougars gave Sandberg all the runs she would need in a five-run first that included a two-run double from Ashley Estepa. The Cougars would add solo runs in the fourth and sixth and a pair in the seventh.
Simon Fraser forced a second game with a 5-4 win.
The Clan broke up Sandberg's string of 15 hitless innings when Megan Durant leadoff the second with a crisp single to right.
Sandberg's string of 17 scoreless innings came to a close in a three-run fourth by the Clan. Jess Martin delivered a pinch-hit RBI single and Jess Harris singled in another run. The Clan took advantage of a Cougar error to go up 3-1.
The Clan got to Sandberg again in the fifth behind RBI singles from Carly Moir and Nicola Collicut.
The Cougars rallied with two runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Ashley Estepa and an RBI single by Ciera Ashman. The Cougars would add a solo run in the seventh, but the Clan snuffed out any comeback.
Sandberg allowed just five runs in 28 innings and tossed two no-hitters.
Simon Fraser 5, UHV 4
Kelsey Haberl belted a two-run home run in the fifth inning to lift the Clan into the championship with a 5-4 win over the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars.
The Jaguars overcame a three run deficit with a pair of runs in the third and fourth, before the Clan rallied for its victory.
Chrissy Caviglia led off the fifth with a single to left and Haberl followed with a shot over the left-center fence to give the Clan the lead.
The Clan took a 3-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly by Haberl and a two-run double from Stefani Durrant.
The Jaguars broke through in the third on a bases loaded walk to Brittany Boren and an unearned run.
Allison Hinton's two-run single that scored Brittany Faas and Izzy Glowney with two outs, put the Jaguars in front.
The Jaguars finish the season at 35-17.