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Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved.
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - - A pair of slow starts abruptly ended the Wilmington University softball team's season as it dropped 4-1 and 3-2 (8 innings) decisions to Caldwell and Le Moyne on Thursday afternoon in the NCAA Division II East 1 Regional Tournament at Georgian Court.
The East Region's eighth seeded Wildcats (31-23) were slow out of the gates against No. 1 Caldwell, falling behind 4-0 after the first full inning. The bats were slow to come alive once again in the elimination game against Le Moyne, getting one-hit until the sixth inning. Le Moyne scored in the top of the eighth while the Wildcats stranded a leadoff hit on third to end the game.
The Wildcats were in position to strike first against Caldwell, getting a walk and an error to put two runners on with one out. Colby Wyatt roped a pitch to the left side, but right at the third baseman. She was able to make the catch and turn the double play to escape the early jam.
The first five Cougars reached base in the bottom of the first inning, getting the first run on an RBI single by the number-three hatter. An errant throw home with the bases loaded brought in two more runs before a passed ball capped the scoring at 4-0 after the first inning.
Caitlyn Whiteside replaced Danielle Bradley in the circle in the second and tossed an excellent game, only allowing five singles through five innings of work. The Wildcats picked up leadoff singles in each of the third and fourth innings, but could only move the runners to as far as second base.
With their last chance, the Wildcats received a leadoff single from Kaitlyn Slater and a double off the top of the left field fence by Meghan Brown. Pinch hitter Keara McCarthy flew out but deep enough to score Slater from third for the sacrifice fly. That was all the Wildcats would muster though, as Cougar starter Amber Padilla shut the down for the final two outs.
Another slow start in the elimination game set the Wildcats behind, as the Dolphins started off with a leadoff double before getting a two-out single to move ahead, 1-0, in the top of the first. The Dolphins added another run in the top of the fourth inning, putting their first two batters on second and third with one out. A fly ball to left was dropped to allow a run in, but the Wildcats got an out at third to stay away form further damage.
The Wildcats didn't pick up their first hit off Le Moyne starter Alexis Eastman until the bottom of the fourth inning and didn't threaten until the sixth.
The team's second hit was an individual record breaker, as senior Cambria Ziemba (at left, on right) became the program's all-time hits leader with a one-out single in the sixth. Her 201st career base hit also started a rally. Classmate Taylor Rizzotte (at left, on left) added an infield single before a ground ball moved the runners to second and third. Meghan Brown then delivered a two-out, game-tying single to right. Looking for more, Slater doubled off the fence in right center, but Brown was caught at the plate on the relay throw trying to score form first base.
Bradley worked around a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, leaving the runner stranded at third, but wasn't as lucky in the eighth. The first two batters reached before Whiteside came on. The Dolphins had the bases loaded with no outs, but could only scratch one run across in the inning.
Looking to answer, Stanley started the eighth with a leadoff single and was standing on second after Ziemba moved her up with a sacrifice. Rizzotte lined a ball back up the middle, but the pitcher got leather on it to slow it down before the shortstop made the play at first. With Stanley at third, Bradley flew out to right to end the game.
The Wildcats' season came to a close on Thursday, but the team won 30 or more games for the third time in program history while their 20 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victories set a new program record.