A 6-5 loss against tournament host Columbia eliminated Morningside from the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championship tournament.

Kayla Salonen

Tournament host Columbia held on to defeat Morningside 6-5 to eliminate the Mustangs from the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championship tournament on Tuesday in Columbia, Mo.

The setback was the Mustangs’ second loss at the four-team opening site double-elimination tourney. Morningside, the GPAC regular season and post-season tournament champion, bowed out with a record of 30-14.

The Cougars will take a 31-17 record into Tuesday’s loser’s bracket final against Central Methodist. The winner will face second-ranked LSU-Alexandria in Wednesday’s championship game. LSU-Alexandria defeated Morningside 3-2 in Monday’s first round.

Columbia held a 6-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning before Morningside’s Kayla Salonen gave the Cougars some anxious moments when she belted a three-run home run to pull the Mustangs within 6-5. Salonen’s home run, her third of the season, came after Kati Steffen had singled and Michelle Brockamp had walked earlier in the inning.

Paxton Welch relieved Cougar starter Lauren McCroskie following Salonen’s blast and held the Mustangs without a hit over the final 2.2 innings to record her second save of the season.

Morgan Fogelman

Prior to the three-run fifth inning, the Mustangs had touched McCroskie for single runs in the third and fourth innings. The Mustangs used singles by Kristina Neumann, Jordan Johnson, and Brockamp to plate a run in the third inning. It took the Mustangs just one swing of the bat to score in the fourth when Morgan Fogelman connected for her fifth home run of the season.

Columbia did all of its scoring in the first four innings. The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a RBI single by Kristin Eiken and then capitalized on a pair of Mustang errors to score an unearned run in the second to go up 2-0.

The Cougars had four hits in a three-run third inning, including a two-run double by Brittany Tjarks and a RBI double by Jamie Holmes.

Eiken had another RBI single in the fourth inning to drive in the Cougars’ final run of the game.

Mustang pitcher Jordan Johnson retired the Cougars’ last eight batters of the game after Eiken’s fourth inning RBI single. Johnson scattered 10 hits in a six-inning complete game performance. She struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

McCroskie allowed eight hits over the first 4.1 innings to get the win. She walked two and fanned two. Welch also had two walks and two strikeouts in her 2.2-inning stint.

Neumann had two singles to pace the Mustangs’ eight-hit attack. Salonen and Fogelman had home runs, while Johnson, Brockamp, Steffen, and McKenzie Anderson all had singles.