Nebraska softball incoming freshman Sammi Noland won a national championship over the weekend, helping the AZ Desert Thunder to a first-place finish at the ASA Gold Nationals in Oklahoma City.
A native of Tucson, Ariz., Noland started at third base for the Desert Thunder. The team clinched the title in a 2-1 win over Texas Impact Gold in the if-necessary game. Noland went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice in the championship game and was perfect defensively in four chances. One day earlier, Noland played a key role in the Desert Thunder advancing in the tournament, as she scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 5-4 win over Oklahoma Athletics Gold.
The national title was a first for the AZ Desert Thunder. The Thunder were coached to the title by Kelly and Lance Fowler, the parents of Husker sophomore infielder Mattie Fowler. Noland was also a teammate of Fowler's at Canyon del Oro, winning two state championships with Fowler and three overall. Kelly Fowler coached Noland for her first three years of high school ball, including a pair of state titles.
Noland completed her prep career with a state championship in her senior year, followed by a national championship in the summer. Noland played a big role in Canyon del Oro's state championship as well, hitting a fourth-inning grand slam to break a 4-4 tie. For her efforts as a senior, Noland was selected as a first-team All-Southern Arizona pick and a Division II first-team honoree.