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No. 1 OLLU Softball punches ticket to NAIA World Series with dominant performances



The nation’s top-ranked OLLU softball team (53-3) is headed back to the NAIA World Series after outscoring opponents 7-0 on their way to winning the San Antonio bracket of the NAIA Opening Round Championship.

“The main goal is to win a championship,” said OLLU senior outfielder Kayla Dreese. “It’s so indescribable to be back in this position again.”

The Saints clinched the opening round title with a 2-0 shutout victory over Hope International University on Wednesday at St. Mary’s University (neutral location).

OLLU senior pitcher Cassie Valdez broke the stalemate in the bottom of the 5th inning with a 2-run home run over the fence in left field that also scored Alyssa Garcia.

“I think both dugouts realized that one run could be the difference,” said OLLU head coach Bruce Lenington. “The fact that it was her big fly and the fact that it just got over — I’ll be excited to watch it later on tape.”

“I was really just being aggressive,” said Valdez about her game-winning 2-run blast. “I was ready for anything she was going to throw over the plate and luckily it just happened to go over, but I was just trying to hit the ball hard.”

“She hit that and the whole dugout just went all out, we were so excited,” said OLLU senior catcher Grace Ross. “We were super excited, we were like ‘She did it again!’”

In the circle, Valdez (26-1) put forth a gritty performance for the Saints. The Veterans Memorial High School alumni struck out nine batters in her third complete game of the tournament.

Next up, the Saints will compete in the NAIA World Series, which begins on Thursday, May 23, in Columbus, Georgia.

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