SALEM, Va. - The motto on back of the Lock Haven University softball T-shirt said the team was coming back for that No. 1 spot.
Guess who's back?
Kristin Erb broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run double over the outfielder's head in left, and the Lady Eagles broke the contest wide open with a five-run sixth inning as Lock Haven won the Division II national title with an 8-0 victory over Alabama-Huntsville.
Erica Eisenbise swings for Lock Haven in the NCAA?title game Monday in Salem, Va.
It's the second national title for Lock Haven in the last four seasons, and it capped the career of eight Lady Eagle seniors that have carried the softball program to new heights.
It was also the largest margin of victory ever in a Division II national championship game, and LHU also tied a series record with 32 runs scored.
"We came and played today," LHU manager Kelley Green said. "We played hard and I think we've made up for all the runs we didn't score in the last two national championships. I'm pleased with how we played, and proud that we can send our seniors out on this note.
"At the beginning of the season in the last four years, our goal was to win a national championship. It's a relief in a way. To be able to do this, when the goal from the start was set so high, is unbelievable. It's the best feeling in the world."
Erb made sure her senior year didn't end like the previous two.
She was incredible in the circle, allowing only one hit - a hard shot from Emily Roach that smacked off the first-base bag and dribbled into right field. She struck out nine, finished her senior season with 400 strikeouts and was named the tournament's most outstanding player.
As great as she was from the rubber, she was even more clutch in the batter's box when Lock Haven (51-6) needed a spark.
Back-to-back singles by Nancy O'Connor and Julia Popovich got the fifth inning started. Following a fielder's choice by Sarah Norris, who set the series record for hits, Erb roped the first pitch she saw from Whitney Hawkins over the fielder's head in left. It rolled to the fence allowing both O'Connor and Norris to score for the 2-0 LHU lead.
"When there was a time-out, coach (Kelly) Shannon called me over and asked me if I knew what pitchers have been doing to me, and I said throwing me inside. She told me that I had to jump on the first pitch that I saw. I said, OK. As soon as I saw a good pitch, I just said to myself, 'One, two, three swing.' And I did."
Shortstop Ilia Lopez followed with a sacrifice fly to give Lock Haven a 3-0 lead after five innings.
The Lady Eagles jumped all over the Chargers (54-6) in the next frame. Lock Haven scored five runs in the frame, got several RBI hits from Lopez, Erb and Britt Muthard, and capitalized on several Alabama-Huntsville errors.
It was a different game from Friday's 3-1 loss to the same Charger team in which Brittany Hawkins held LHU to seven hits.
"It's all about adjusting at the plate," Norris said. "We tried to block out as much of that first game as we could. As a team, we wanted to learn from that, and bring it into this game. I think we adjusted, and remembered how she pitched to us in the opening innings."
"She was good at keeping the ball down. That's where she was successful," said Erica Eisenbise, who finished with three hits in the game. "We really didn't rely on the big hit or the long home runs. It was about single swings and putting the ball in play."
While Lock Haven left runners in scoring position during the first two innings, and again in the fourth, Alabama-Huntsville just struggled to get a runner on base.
The only other player to reach, other than Roach in the second, was Erin Duke - who was hit twice by Erb pitches.
Erb struck out at least two batters in three of the six innings, and just completed dominated a Charger team that only lost for the sixth time in 2009.
"One day, we were better than Lock Haven. Today, we weren't," UAH manager Les Stuedeman said. "Today was the day that mattered. She was just dominating. I didn't feel that way in the first game. I felt like, even when we were getting out, we were having successful at-bats. She never put anything in a place where we could get a hold of it. Even the hit we got wasn't well struck."
Lock Haven000 035 - 8 10 0
Alabama-Huntsville000 000 - 0 1 3
LH: Kristin Erb and Amanda Roosa. AH: Whitney Hawkins, Alex Lewis (5), Sage Woodham (5) and Kristina Prater, Whitney Schrimsher (5). WP - Erb (50-5). LP - Hawkins (21-1).
2B: LH, Erb, Ilia Lopez. MH: LH, Erica Eisenbise 3, Erb 2.
Records: LH 51-6, AH 54-6.