Arguably no California Baptist University team has ever reached the level of consistent success in the NAIA that CBU Softball did from 2004-2011, culminating in the program’s first ever national title in 2009. No team also had been so close to the pinnacle so many times prior to that national triumph, only to fall just short, which is what made our No. 5 moment so much sweeter.
From 2004-2011 CBU posted a 467-56 record – the best mark of any program, at any level, in the country during that time period. The Lancers had seven straight seasons with at least 55 wins, four straight 60-win seasons, made eight straight national tournament appearances, and had a 68-18 postseason record.
Prior to 2009, however, CBU had one thing missing on its otherwise stellar résumé – a national title.
The Lancers finished seventh their first year at the tournament and then were national runners-up in both 2005 and 2006 before finishing third and fourth respectively the next two years. During their span of four straight Top 5 finishes, the Lancers spent 22 weeks atop the NAIA Coaches’ Poll and lost just 27 total games.
It was the 2009 title that would validate all of that success and give a coaching staff and players the satisfaction at the end of the year they desired.
“It’s surreal,” said CBU head coach Mike Smith after the Lancers defeated St. Gregory’s 3-2 to win the championship. “People (tell you) what it’s going to feel like, but I just know that this is better than I had ever imagined. I think it’s because we have spent so long and have come close so many times.”
The Lancers swept through the 2009 tournament, knocking St. Gregory’s into the loser’s bracket with a 5-4 win to move on to the championship matchup, which ended up being a rematch of the semifinals for CBU. CBU got the win in the semis behind a complete game performance from eventual NAIA Pitcher of the Year Tory Ferreira and a game saving, diving catch in the outfield from Kendall Gorham for the final out of the game.
The title game was once again a one-run affair with all of the game’s offense coming in the opening frame.
Freshman starter Emma Holden gave up two runs in the first, but settled in to hold St. Gregory’s scoreless for the next 5.1 innings. CBU answered the pair of scores with a home run from Ashley Boyd, followed by a two-run double from Nicole Shoemaker to go up 3-2 for good. Melanie Ahumada would get the final two outs of the game and then the celebration was on.
That 2009 squad boasted two eventual NAIA Pitchers of the Year (Holden and Ferreira), CBU’s all-time strikeout leader (Holden), all-time home runs leader (Gorham) and a total of seven NAIA All-Americans and 12 all-conference players. No accomplishment measured up to that long awaited 2009 title, however.
CBU and the transition to the NCAA series timeline
June 14 – Introduction to the series
June 18 – Moment No. 9 - 1999 Men's Water Polo
June 19 – Moment No. 8 - 2010 Baseball
June 20 – Moment No. 7 – 1974 Men’s Tennis
June 21 – Moment No. 6 – 2011 Women’s Golf
June 24 – Moment No. 5 – 2009 Softball
June 25 – Moment No. 4
June 26 – Moment No. 3
June 27 – Moment No. 2
June 28 – Moment No. 1
July 1 – A comprehensive look back at more than 45 years with the NAIA
July 8 – A look back at the last three years of transition to the NCAA