THOMASVILLE -- Thomas University softball coach Thomas Macera, never known for his sunshine-y disposition, was positively chipper late in the season when it appeared his TU women's softball team would earn a No. 4 national ranking.

"The great thing is," Macera said then, "if we're in the Top Four, we get a bye."

Wouldn't you know it?

The final week of the season, all of TU's consecutive losses to Mobile (there were six in all) ended up knocking Macera's club down to fifth.

And once the NAIA Nationals started in Decatur, Ala. late last week, that meant Thomas University had to play right off the bat.

That extra game, a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma Christian, an extra six innings worth of work for Mariangee Bogado's extraordinarily sturdy right arm may well have been the difference in the tournament.

Bogado was in her 14th inning of work Monday night when Mobile's Meredith Tanner lashed a single up the middle in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving Mobile a 2-1 victory, a loss that sent the Thomas University women packing.

But even before that hit, it had been a long and difficult tournament.

After weather issues fouled up the tourney brackets beyond recognition, Thomas University headed into Monday with an 0-1 record. One more loss would send it home.

TU opened with a three-run first vs. Wilmington, then, when the visitors rallied against starter Tracy Avery, Kristyn Ludvik stepped up with three innings of brilliant relief while TU scored nine runs in the final three innings to win 12-3. Tania Black drove in three runs with two hits, Kim Hopkins and Kylie Brine had three hits each and Jennifer Byrd had two hits.

Next game against Kentucky's Brescia, a 35-21 team and Macera went back to his ace, Bogado, who spun a two-hit shutout, fanning 10, walking none as TU won 6-0.

Stephanie Dixon had a three-hit game, which included a double, Bogado had two hits and every TU starter but one had a hit.

Next up, surprisingly, was Mobile.

TU had expected to have to play Olivet Nazarene but they shocked old friend Mobile 1-0, meaning that for the 50th time this season (actually, the ninth time) the two would meet.

Only this time, the other had the chance to end the opponent's season.

Mobile managed five hits off Bogado and the Night Hawks had just two off starter Kirby Baxter, one by Bogado, one by Heidi Schmitt.

Mobile scored in the third, TU matched that in the top of the sixth. But in the fateful seventh, with one out, a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases. Bogado got the second out, Denisse Fuenmayor with her final strikeout of the season.

But DH Meredith Tanner's single on the next pitch ended the wild ride of the TU season. It was one to remember.

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