SIOUX CITY | The Ottawa Braves only had two hits, but that was all they needed.

Elisa Valenzuela hit a two-out solo homer in the top of the first inning and the Braves defeated Morningside 1-0 in a pitchers’ duel in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round at the Elizabeth & Irving F. Jensen Softball Complex here Monday.

“Sometimes you gotta get lucky,” said Ottawa coach Jay Kahnt. “Lucky for us our senior (Valenzuela) was able to step up in the first inning and put us on the board.”

Morningside (39-11) finished with six hits, and never struck out, but couldn’t drive in any runs. The Mustangs closest opportunity came in the bottom of the third when Tracey Edwards tried to score from second on a single from Emilee Dorpinghaus but was thrown out at home by left-fielder Kori Lacey.

“That was really the only time we had a runner in scoring position with a base hit,” said Morningside coach Jessica Jones-Sitzmann. “I had to try it.”

The only other hit for the Braves (38-17) was a two-out double by Aryn Smith in the top of the seventh inning. Morningside pitcher Rachel Henks induced a popout on the next at-bat to get out of the inning.

“Rachel came back and threw a great game,” said Jones-Sitzmann. “She threw a two-hitter. I can’t ask any more of her on the mound.”

Henks walked two and struck out seven while only facing 22 batters.

“That’s a great pitcher,” said Kahnt. “She’s really good. We were fortunate to get one.”

Molli Morgan threw a six-hit shutout for Ottawa and didn’t walk anyone.

“Our pitcher threw her butt off today,” said Kahnt. “What a great pitcher’s duel. That’s what playoff softball is all about. You’re not going to win games 9-8. Luckily, we were on the one-run side today.”

Moriah Bohlmann went 2-for-3 from the plate for Morningside, but the Mustangs reached second base just twice against Morgan.

“She spots the ball and controls things well and she kept us guessing,” said Jones-Sitzmann.

Kahnt says that winning low-scoring games is common for the Braves.

“That’s the way we’ve played all year,” said Kahnt. “We don’t blow people away. We win a lot of 3-2 and 1-0 ball games. We’re comfortable in these games.”

Ottawa plays Reinhardt (42-14-1) at 11 am on Tuesday, while Morningside plays Jamestown (41-20) in an elimination game after the conclusion of the first game.

“We’re playing for two games,” said Jones-Sitzmann. “We have to be prepared to play two games tomorrow.”

REINHARDT 2, JAMESTOWN 1: Angela Roberts walked with the bases loaded to score Sarah Kate Jenkins and the Reinhardt softball team defeated Jamestown 2-1 in eight innings in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round at the Elizabeth & Irving F. Jensen Softball Complex here Monday.

Trailing 1-0, Kate Jenkins singled to score Taylor Weeks and tie the game at 1-all.

Madison Luck allowed five hits, one run, two walks and struck out one batter in a no decision for Reinhardt (42-14-1). Maci Mills pitched four innings of relief and allowed no hits or runs and walked two.

Jamestown (41-20) scored its lone run in the top of the fourth when Linda Ontiveros singled to score Kelly Halverson. Hanna Dunnigan pitched 5.2 innings and allowed four hits, one run, four walks and struck out 10 in a losing effort.

Reinhardt plays Ottawa (38-17) at 11 am on Tuesday, while Jamestown plays Morningside (39-11) in an elimination game after the conclusion of the first game.

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