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DeJesus, Simpson playing for NAIA title

East Union grad hit .467, 3 HRs in qualifying round

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POSTED May 20, 2014 1:48 a.m.

Former East Union standout Cherie DeJesus is making her two years on the Simpson University softball team count.

After earning Newcomer of the Year honors in the California Pacific Conference last year, the second-year transfer from Central Arizona College is leading the No. 17-ranked Red Hawks (38-7) to their second-ever appearance in the 34th annual National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series.

The Cal-Pac champions are seeded ninth for the double-elimination event and will face No. 8 Oklahoma City College (52-11) this Friday at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga. The winner takes on top-seeded LSU Alexandria (35-3) of Louisiana on Saturday night.

Oklahoma City holds the NAIA World Series record for most appearances with 29, including 23 in succession, 111 wins and eight championships.

Simpson is no stranger to matching up with one of the nation’s best NAIA programs. To make it to the World Series, the Redding-based Red Hawks had to knock off previous No. 1 Concordia University (Irvine) in the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round. 

Simpson defeated Concordia 7-2 in the winner-take-all final last Wednesday, with DeJesus — hitting third in the order while starting at second base — going 2 for 4 with a double, RBI and a run scored.

DeJesus goes into the NAIA World Series as her team’s hottest hitter. In four games last week she was 7 for 15 (.467) with three home runs and 11 RBIs. Two of those jacks were much-needed grand slams. 

In the Red Hawks’ opener against Concordia (Oregon), she cracked a four-run shot in the fourth inning en route to a 5-4 victory. Simpson was dropped to the consolation bracket with its 3-1 nine-inning loss to Concordia (Irvine), but DeJesus (2 for 4, run) continued to rake. She helped the Red Hawks advance to the finals with another 2-for-4 effort that included a two-run homer in a 6-4 win over Concordia (Oregon).

They forced an “if necessary” championship game by edging Concordia (Irvine) 9-7 and were buoyed by the East Union grad’s second grand slam, this one on a full count in the second inning.

The 10-team World Series tournament will feature up to 19 games in a seven-day span. The championship game is scheduled for May 29.

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