Big hits elude Virginia Wesleyan in ODAC tourney run
SALEM, Va. -- Clutch hitting that helped carry Virginia Wesleyan College's softball team to another standout season eluded the Marlins when they had to have it during the Old Dominion Athletic Confernce championship tournament.
On a three-game Saturday as the defending ODAC champion Marlins played their way toward a berth in the championship game, the bats connected only once for double-digit hits, as VWC belted out 12 in a 10-1 romp over Randolph-Macon College.
Virginia Wesleyan (30-11) followed that with a thrilling 2-1 victory over 2010 ODAC champion Eastern Mennonite University (27-13), but managed only three hits in the victory. That win put the Marlins in the loser's bracket final against Bridgewater College (34-11), the team that put them there on Friday.
Once again the hits were limited for VWC, as the team finished with five in a tough 3-2 loss to the Eagles. Virginia Wesleyan had the Eagles on the ropes in the bottom of the seventh trailing by one, with one run in, one out, and runners on second and third. But, the offense stopped there and Bridgewater eked out the victory.
Sophomore Lindsey Izana (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) put things into motion for the Marlins in the seventh when she reached base on a fielding error. Andrea Shannon (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) entered to run for Izana and moved to second when Chelsea Henline (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) singled. A single up the middle by the ODAC's leading hitter Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen, Va./J.R. Tucker) scored Shannon. Higginbotham later stole second, her 26th of season, to give the Marlins the runners at second and third.
Bridgewater led 1-0 after the first and 2-0 after three. VWC cut into the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a run of a grounder from Heather Bishop (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) that scored Jaclyn Quinn (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory), who led off the inning with a walk.
Bridgewater added another run in the top of fifth, before VWC produced its final rally in the seventh.
VWC left seven runners stranded, including runners in scoring position in the third, fifth, and seventh innings.
Henline led hitting with a pair of singles. Rookie Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn, Va./Briar Wood) lost in the circle for only the fourth time in 20 starts. She faced 29 batters, struck out five, walked two and gave up seven hits and two earned runs.
Heather Jenkins (Locust Grove, Va./Orange County) improved to 17-5, striking out three batters, walking two, and scattering five hits and one earned run. Kasey Anderson (Chatham, Va./Chatham) led the Eagles with three of their seven hits in the game.
Virginia Wesleyan 2, Eastern Mennonite 1
Higginbotham opened the first inning for the Marlins with a double down the left line and Kelly Keys (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) followed with a walk. Both Marlins eventually scored, Higginbotham on a sacrifice by Karagiorgis and Keys on a steal at home.
That ended the scoring until the top of the seventh when EMU decided to make things exciting. The Royals produced three of their hits in the inning and scored when Sara Jenkins (Stanley, Va./Page County) singled in Rasheeda Crews (Bookneal, Va./William Campbell), who reached base earlier on a fielder's choice.
After a VWC pitching change that brought Karagiorgis in to finish with Jenkins on first and one out, an illegal pitch moved the runner to second. Megan Viafora (Stanley, Va./Page County) followed with a walk, before a strikeout gave EMU two outs. But Jordan Aylor (Madison, Va./Madison County) kept things alive with a single to load the bases. It all ended with the next batter however, as a fielder's choice produced the third out and preserved the 2-1 win for VWC.
Sophomore MacKenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) faced 24 batters for the Marlins and struck out five. She allowed just one walk, four hits, and one earned run. Karagiorgis picked up her fourth save of the season, facing four batters, striking out one, walking one, and allowing one hit.
Lisa Lee (Buckingham, Va./Buckingham County) absored the EMU loss, falling to 12-5. She struck out two, walked three and gave up three hits and one earned run.
VWC finished with three hits, led by a double each from Higginbotham and Shannon. Aylor paced EMU with a pair of singles.