SALEM, Va. -- Virginia Wesleyan College's defense denied Shenandoah University's a third comeback Monday as the Marlins posted a thrilling 8-6 victory in a record-breaking 2013 Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship game at the James I. Moyer Athletic Complex.
The Marlins and Hornets battled through 19 innings, breaking the ODAC record for most inning played set in 2000 by Roanoke College and Wisconsin-Eau Claire ina 15-inning contest.. The NCAA Division III record is 21 innings set in a 1992 contest between SUNY-Cortland and Le Moyne College.
Virginia Wesleyan improved to 38-6, winning the College's seventh ODAC title overall and second in the past three years. The Marlins receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament which begins with regional play May 9-13. Pairings for the regionals will be announced Monday, May 6.
VWC moved in front of the Hornets (27-18) for good in the top of the 19th inning when juniorLindsey Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield) belted a two-run home run to end a 6-all tie. Her two-out shot also scored juniorTori Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker), who led off the inning with a single.
Shenandoah, which wiped out deficits twice in earlier innings to tie the Marlins and keep the game going, could not do it a third time. VWC rookie pitcher Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial) played a big part in that. She struck out the first batter and drew two grounds outs to end the inning and the longest game in VWC history.
Shipp picked up the pitching win for the Marlins, working the final six innings and allowing just four hits. She also struck out four batters as she improved to 2-0 on the season. She was part of a solid pitching effort by the Marlins overall, as sophomore Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briar Woods) started in the circle for VWC before being relieved by juniorMackenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange). Creech was in the circle for 7.1 innings and fanned three batters. She gave up seven hits, two walks and four earned runs. Karagiorgis pitched 5.2 innings, striking out two, walking two and giving up five hits and two earned runs.
Virginia Wesleyan never trailed in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning and expanding that to 2-0 in the fifth. Rookie Kayla Dost (Bristow/Nokesville Brentsville) had an RBI-single in the fourth, scoring juniorSeason Dailey (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox) who singled earlier in the inning. Higginbotham led off the fifth with single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Karagiorgis.
That lead was wiped out in the bottom of the sixth however, as Shenandoah combined four hits with three VWC errors to plate the tying runs.
Pitching and defense dominated play in the next five innings, before Virginia Wesleyan came to life again in the top of the 12th. The Marlins plated four runs off four hits, with Dailey coming through with a two-run homer that scored Karagiorgis. Higginbotham recorded an RBI double in the surge and Inzana lifted an RBI sacrifice, all helping the Marlins to a 6-2 lead.
Matters looked promising for VWC in the bottom of the inning when two of the first three Hornet batters recorded outs. But SU stayed alive with four singles and a walk to plate four runs before the Marlins came up with the third out, sending the game into the 13th inning tied a 6-all.
Neither team could pick up more than one hit in any of the next six innings, taking the game into the top of the 19th. Higginbotham led off the inning with a single moved to second on a sacrifice bunt byKelly Keys (Manassas/Osbourn Park), and took third on a Karagiorgis foul out to left. That brought Izana to the plate and knocked out the two-run homer to give the Marlins the lead for the third and final time in the game.
Shenandoah started and ended the game with Stephanie Cameron (Ocala, Fla./Forest) pitching. She worked 14.2 innings and gave up 13 hits, two walks and seven earned runs. Megan Tripp pitched 4.1 innings in between Cameron's stints and gave up three hits.
Both teams finished with 16 hits. Courtney Bogan (Round Hill/Woodgrove), Higginbotham, Dailey and Dost all belted three hits each for VWC. Inzana led the Marlins with three RBI and Dailey added two.
Denise Mitchell (Ellicott City, Md./Marriotts Ridge) led Shenandoah with five hits.
2013 ODAC Softball All-Tournament Team
Kasey Anderson, Bridgewater
Courtney Bogan, Virginia Wesleyan
Stephanie Cameron, Shenandoah
MacKenzie Creech, Virginia Wesleyan
Season Dailey, Virginia Wesleyan
Brittany Guepe, Shenandoah
Jessi Hall, Lynchburg
Tori Higginbotham, Virginia Wesleyan (MOP)
Melanie Lamb, Bridgewater
Lauren McCabe, Shenandoah
Denis Mitchell, Shenandoah
Heather Sink, Shenandoah