With its back against the wall in the NCAA Division II East Region 1 Tournament, the fifth seeded Wilmington University softball team saw its season come to a close with a 7-2 loss to top seeded Caldwell on Sunday morning at Adelphi's Janet L. Ficke Field.
The team had more than one enemy to face on Sunday, as some of the team was struck with a viral infection overnight, giving head coach Mike Shehorn a shortened roster. Nonetheless, the Wildcats tied Caldwell, 2-2, in the bottom of the third, but the Cougars answered with five unanswered runs over the next four innings to remain alive in the East Region 1 Tournament.
Much like the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament winner's bracket game against the Cougars, the Wildcats threatened in the bottom of the first, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Caldwell started Amber Padilla induced a line out and a strikeout before loading the bases with a two-out walk. Padilla than picked up a second looking strikeout to escape the jam unscathed.
The Cougars came right back in the top of the second and put two on the board, scoring pair of unearned runs with two outs in the inning.
Wilmington starter Brooke Lachette settled in and put the Cougars down in order in the top of the third, keeping the deficit at 2-0.
The offense came through in the bottom of the third, eventually tying the game, 2-2. Kelsey Doherty singled through the left side for her second hit of the game before being chased all the way around the bases on an RBI triple from Cambria Ziemba. After Padilla recorded two outs, Michelle Panasiti doubled in Ziemba to knot the game at 2-2.
Caldwell retaliated with the go-ahead run in the top of the fourth, which would become the game-winning run as the Wildcats offense wouldn't respond. The Cougars added two runs in the top of the fifth with two outs in the inning, getting a two-run single from Kortney Craker. Caldwell added two more insurance runs in the top of the seventh, bringing the final score to 7-2 in the Regional Semifinal.
Both Doherty and Ziemba led the offense with two hits each, while Panasiti and Shannon Brantley capped the team's six hits with one knock each.
Lachette spun the first 4.2 innings for the Wildcats, giving up five runs (two earned) on five hits. Brantley relieved Lachette for the final 2.1 innings, picking up a strikeout while allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits.
The seniors (Doherty, Panasiti, Chelsea Botsch, and Katrina Swank) played their final games as a Wildcat this weekend but have brought the program to new heights. The four seniors were apart of the first CACC Tournament Championship team last year, and led the team to its first at-large bid into the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament this year.