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Sierra grads Lorge, Thomas make deep runs in NAIA World Series
NAIA World Series
Sam Lorge celebrates with Jessup University teammates after hitting the walk-off home run in the Warriors’ 4-3 win over Madonna on Tuesday during the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Softball World Series. MATT HORROCKS/Jessup University Athletics

 A pandemic robbed Sam Lorge and Deshon Thomas of their senior seasons at Sierra High, but the 2020 grads have made the most of their college careers.

NAIA World Series
Deshon Thomas
Both played key roles in historic runs with their respective programs this week in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics softball and baseball World Series.

Lorge left her mark in Columbus, Ga., hitting three home runs — including a walk-off — over seven games to lead Jessup University’s softball team to a runner-up finish. Meanwhile, at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho, Thomas scored in every game for Arizona Christian which was among the six finalists in the NAIA Baseball World Series.

Lorge and the Rocklin-based Warriors went out with a bang. The senior third baseman leaves as the team’s all-time home run leader with 32, surpassing the previous mark (30) set by former East Union standout Brittany LaMar (2012-15). LaMar still holds the record for career RBIs (137), and Lorge ends up No. 3 with 129.

For Jessup, it was a memorable final season in the Golden State Athletic Conference and the NAIA, as the school will begin competing at the NCAA Division II level as a new member of the PacWest Conference starting next year. The Warriors compiled a 44-12 record in its all-time best season.

Lorge appeared in all seven of Jessup’s World Series games, going 7 for

NAIA World Series
Sam Lorge swings at the ball during her heroic final at-bat against Madonna on Tuesday. MATT HORROCKS/Jessup University Athletics
15, with three walks and 10 RBIs. She tied and broke the school’s home-run record in the process.

Lorge and the Warriors quickly made themselves at home last Thursday, May 23 at South Commons Softball Complex. She bashed the first of her three three-run homers for the tournament in the bottom of the first inning, as the Warriors rolled to a 5-4 win over Southern Oregon in their first-ever World Series game. The home run drew Lorge even with LaMar on the all-time list, and the team set a new single-season record for wins with 40.

The following day, Jessup knocked off second-ranked Oklahoma City 11-2, and Lorge again hammered a three-run bomb to have the record to herself.

The Warriors then took their first loss of the World Series to University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, 5-4.

They twice staved off elimination Tuesday, and Lorge kept them alive with another powerful swing.

NAIA World Series
Sierra High grad Sam Lorge rounds the bases after bashing the walk-off home run that kept Jessup University alive in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series on Tuesday. MATT HORROCKS/Jessup University Athletics

Lorge drove in all the Warriors’ runs in the 4-3 win over Madonna and ended it in dramatic fashion. They trailed by two runs with two outs and two strikes against Lorge, who walked it off with a shot to left.

Later Tuesday, Jessup held off Oregon Tech 4-3 to advance to the final day of the season. Lorge went 1 for 1 and walked twice.

On Wednesday, the Warriors avenged their loss to Science and Arts, 3-2. They then lost in the final to top-ranked Our Lady of the Lake 2-0, and Lorge recorded one of her team’s four hits.

A three-time All-GSAC Team selection, Lorge hit for a .323 batting average with nine homers and 35 RBIs in 55 games played in her senior season. She played a big part in Sierra’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title runs in 2017 and 18 as the catcher.

Thomas played a part in Arizona Christian’s most successful season in its 14-year history.

The Firestorm (38-21) qualified for the World Series for the first time and went 2-2 in Idaho. Thomas plated at least one run in every game, scoring six in all.

ACU opened with a 17-10 win over Kansas Wesleyan on May 24 and stunned No. 1-ranked Southeastern University 5-3 in 11 innings last Saturday.

The Firestorm were on the wrong end of history on Monday when they lost 30-13 to Reinhardt University. It was the second-highest scoring game in tournament history, and the combined 45 hits are a new record.

ACU was eliminated Wednesday by GSAC rival Hope International, 8-1.

Thomas, a recent ACU graduate with another year of eligibility remaining, is a three-time recipient of the NAIA Scholar-Athlete Award. He ended his junior year with a .304 average, 49 runs, four homers, 21 RBIs and a team-high 22 stolen bases.