AKRON, Ohio — Barbara Jordan said she was going to miss the little pleasures that go along with being a member of a three-time defending national champion collegiate softball team.
"Every summer after we won, I'd go out and lay in the sun and think, 'I'm part of the best team in the nation,' "said Jordan, a two-time All-American center fielder for Cal State Northridge. "This summer it's going to be tough."
It will be easy for the team from Stephen F. Austin University, which Sunday began basking in the glow of its first national title after an eight-inning, 1-0 win over CSUN in the championship game of the NCAA Division II World Series before 893 at Buchtel Field.
Austin (38-15) swept three games in the double-elimination tournament--including two victories over CSUN--to win the national title. CSUN (51-12-1) finished in second place for the first time since 1982.
"It would have been nice to have won it four years in a row," said Kathy Slaten, who pitched the final game of her CSUN career. "But I guess three out of four ain't bad."
Slaten (22-6-1), a four-time All-American, finished her career with a record of 123-33-1.
Against Austin, Slaten gave up 4 hits, struck out 11 and walked 4. It was a performance that looked like it would be good enough to force a second game with Austin.
But in the eighth inning, Slaten's one real weakness was exploited by the Ladyjacks.
After Penni Lewis walked to lead off the inning, Austin Coach Dianne Baker had Phyllis Aswell bunt back to the mound.
Slaten throws underhand with velocity and control, but has never been able to make a strong throw with her arm in an overhand position. Her attempt to get Aswell at first bounced and arrived too late, putting runners at first and second with no one out.
Slaten loaded the bases when she walked Ruth Doxtad, and Stella Castro followed with a sacrifice fly to left-center field that scored Lewis with the game-winning run.
"We tried for two games to bunt the ball back to Slaten, because she doesn't like to throw to first," Baker said. "At that point, I knew we were going to be all right."
With Pam Clay on the mound for Austin, Baker had reason to be confident.
There are 19 bowling alleys in Akron, but the fans who turned out to see Clay pitch during the weekend saw her throw more strikes than any of the pros at the famous Riviera Lanes.
Clay, who was named most valuable player of the tournament, scattered six hits and twice stopped CSUN scoring opportunities with nice defensive plays.
"I figured they were going to come after us, so I just tried to keep the ball away from their power hitters," said Clay, who donned a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Yeah, we did" after the win. "We were underdogs the whole year. Other teams used to call us The Sisters of the Poor. We're the champs now, and it feels great."
CSUN, which needed to sweep a doubleheader to win the title, had an opportunity to tie the game when the Lady Matadors had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth.
It looked like it might be a repeat of Saturday's 5-4, come-from-behind win over Bloomsburg, but Kelly Winn lined out to the shortstop and Terri Lamoree grounded out to end both the game and CSUN's three-year championship reign.
"I'm proud of the way we played in this tournament," CSUN Coach Gary Torgeson said. "No one here wanted us to win, but I think our girls won some people over by the way they went about their game.