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St. George • If there ever was a case that proves how big hitting can be contagious, the Salt Lake Community College softball team got a perfect example at the perfect time Thursday afternoon.
After a tense pitchers' duel couldn't settle things through regulation, Madison Sisco got the hitting party started that gave the Bruins another valuable victory.
Sisco led off the top of the eighth inning with the first of three home runs, and Alex Valencia made a defensive stop that saved two runs and gave SLCC a 5-2 victory over San Jacinto-South at the NJCAA World Series at the Canyons Complex. Sisco set a school record with her 21st home run of the season.
"As she hit that homer, the other girls couldn't be outdone," Bruins coach Cyndee Bennett said. "Everyone followed, and it just took off."
Alex Valencia followed with a single before Ashlee Snyder got into the act with a two-run shot. And after the next two hitters were retired, Ashley Anderson capped the rally with her first home run of the season.
San Jacinto threatened to get back in the game in the bottom of the inning by putting runners at second and third, but Valencia made the play of the game with one out when she made a diving catch on a Danielle Damian liner heading for the gap in right-center field that denied the Coyotes two runs.
"All of our coaches thought Alex would catch that ball," Bennett said about Valencia's game-saving play. "We had no doubt. She won't leave practice until she makes one of those catches."
Bruins pitcher Addie Jensen got MacKenzie Kotrla to pop to short for the final out that put SLCC into the noon championship semifinal Friday against Lake Land, a 16-8 winner over Florida Southwestern.
Both teams scored single runs in the first inning before Jensen and Niki Gonzalez traded zeroes on the scoreboard.
The Bruins improved to 49-6 with the win.
"This whole national is pressure," Bennett said. "We're aware that the final is getting closer, but just focusing on the next opponent. We're not looking big picture at all."
Championship bracket winners will face off for a spot in the national title game at 5 p.m.
NJCAA World Series
At Canyons Complex, St. George
Salt Lake 5, San Jacinto-South 2, 8 innings
Butler 15, Howard 3
Central Arizona 2, Chipola 0
Lake Land 16, Florida Southwestern 8
Tyler 15, Snead State 9
North Central-Texas 7, Wallace State 6
NE Oklahoma A&M 14, Indian Hills 11
Georgia Military 5, Chattanooga State 4
San Jacinto-South 3, Tyler 2
Florida Southwestern 6, North Central-Texas 2
NE Oklahoma A&M 1, Chipola 0
Howard 16, Georgia Military 8
Noon • Salt Lake vs. Lake Land
Noon • Butler vs. Central Arizona
Noon • San Jacinto-South vs. Florida Southwestern
Noon • NE Oklahoma A&M vs. Howard