Corban University senior Paige Martin, a David Douglas graduate, finished her softball career with a splash after helping the Warriors to the NAIA championship game earlier this month.
The Warriors were no strangers to success, making the trip to Regionals three times during Martin's stay at the Salem school. This season, Corban took the next step by sweeping all three games in Columbia, Kent., starting with Martin playing a key role in an 11-7 win over host school Taylor University.
Trailing 5-3, Martin stepped into the batter's box and connected on a two-run homer that eventually sent the game into extra innings.
"I hadn't hit a home run all year, so I didn't go up there looking to hit one," Martin said. "I just remember touching every base as I ran around, just thinking it was a great way to go out my senior year."
But Martin wasn't done.
In the ninth inning, she had the bat in her hands once again. She swung through and watched the ball fly toward the outfield grass as she ran down the baseline.
"I was thinking I had a double, then I saw it go over the fence — I thought to myself 'I just did it again,'" Martin said. "My favorite moment was coming home and seeing my teammates with their rally caps on and the excitement in their eyes."
The two-run shot was part of a six-run rally in the ninth that sealed the victory in their playoff opener.
"That first home run gave me confidence, and I knew I was hitting the ball well — it was the right time against the right pitcher," Martin said.
The Warriors went on to sweep two from Madonna University out of Michigan, including an 8-0 mercy-rule win, sending Corban to its first-ever NAIA Softball World Series.
Destination Clermont, Fla. — a half-hour drive from Disney World.
Much was on the line when Corban arrived in Florida for its opening game against Marian University.
"If we won that first one, we'd have a couple days off, and coach promised we could spend one of those days at Disney World," Martin said.
The Warriors wiped out a 2-0 deficit with three-run spurts in the fifth and sixth innings to score a 6-3 win.
Mickey Mouse here we come.
"I like any of the big rides, I did Splash Mountain three times," Martin said. "We got back to our hotel that night and we were probably more tired than if we had played an actual game. It was just a great time with girls who I love spending time with."
The Warriors returned to the softball complex and scored a 5-0 shutout over Columbia College to clinch a spot into the final three.
Next up was an Oklahoma City team that came into the game with a 66-1 record.
The Stars put two runs up in the first inning to grab the early lead.
The teams would fill the rest of the slots with zeroes in a defensive standoff that saw Martin dive in the dirt to get one spectacular out.
"Defense is my favorite part of the game," Martin said. "This was a hit up the middle — one of those that I thought I had no chance to get to — then my body just took over and the next thing I know the ball is in my glove."
The Warriors scored a 4-2 win over Louisiana State-Alexandria with a sixth-inning rally that saw Martin single through the middle and come around the score what would be the game's final run.
That earned Corban a rematch with Oklahoma City in the championship game where the Stars came out on top 4-1.
"There were a lot of emotions. It was a great environment to send our seniors out with a bang," Martin said. "Softball is a lot about playing for everyone else, and that got ingrained into our mindset. Our motto for the season was 'Do it for our family'."
Martin enters the final semester of her Master's program in business management in the fall.