Kennesaw State jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as the Owls won its ninth consecutive elimination game, defeating Northern Kentucky 6-0 to advance to the title game at the NCAA Division II Softball Championships in Salem, Va.
The loss was the second straight for the Norse, who ends their season at 55-2. Kennesaw State will face Lynn for the national title on Monday, in a game that will be televised live by CSTV beginning at 11 a.m. ET.
Brittany Matthews, starting her fourth consecutive game for the Owls, was dynamic. Matthews gave up just three hits and struck out nine to earn her 29th win of the season, and fourth of the last three days.
The Owls struck big in the third inning. After failing to take advantage of two NKU errors in the first inning, the Owls struck Norse starter Emily Breitholle for a five-run inning.
Kelley Cowart got things started with a leadoff single, and Kate Winstel moved Cowart to third with a single.With runners on second and third, Courtney Matiak laid down a bunt to load the bases. Cowart scored on a ground ball by Jennifer Hunt, and Cassell singled to give the Owls a 2-0 lead.
Kate Winstel then cleared the bases on a routine ground ball that took a high bounce at second, found the gap and went to the wall for a double.
NKU garnered its first hits of the games with back-to-back two-out singles in he third, but could not plate a run in its best scoring opportunity.
Kennesaw State added an insurance run in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt by Cambria McKay that scored Cassell.
Matthews gave up a single in the sixth, but retired the last five batters to pick up the victory.
The Owls look to duplicate the 1995 Kennesaw State team, which lost the first round of the national tournament and came back to win the national title. They will meet a Lynn team that is 3-0 on the tournament, and must lose twice on Monday to be denied a national championship.