CLERMONT, Fla. - - Timely pitching and clutch hitting helped the Wilmington University softball team to a pair of victories on Thursday, defeating Cedarville, 4-3, before upending the defending NCAA Division II National Champions Minnesota State Mankato, 9-4, at the National Training Center.
The Wildcats (7-5) scored early and staved off a Cedarville (8-8) late surge in the opener before the Wildcats defeated their second nationally ranked team of the week, using constant offensive pressure against the defending National Champions to secure the victory.
Game One – Cedarville
The top of the order started the Wildcats off on the right foot in the top of the first inning, as the first three batters reached against Cedarville. Rosa'Lynn Burton and Kiana Broderson-Jones each bunted their way on before Lauren Lopez doubled both of them in for a quick 2-0 lead. Now with two outs, Keara McCarthy hit a single into center field, chasing Lopez home to put the Wildcats ahead, 3-0, before the Yellow Jackets were even able to bat.
Cedarville didn't go quietly with its first opportunity either, as the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with their first three batters as well. A walk forced in the first run before a single brought the Yellow Jackets to within 3-2. Starting pitcher Caitlyn Whiteside buckled down and got a strike out and a liner back to the circle to escape further damage in the inning.
Lexi Baughman started the top of the second off with a double to center but she stood on third with two outs. Burton knocked her in for what proved to be a much-needed insurance run with a two-out single to center, 4-2.
Whiteside didn't run into much trouble until the sixth inning, when the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with one out. Cedarville put the bat on the ball, but it went right to Burton in left field for the catch, and she threw it to third base to get the lead runner off the bag for the inning-ending double play.
Cedarville had one last ditch effort in the seventh, putting two runners on with one out. Now with two outs, Heather Lord singled to bring the Yellow Jackets to within 4-3, but Whiteside picked up a game-ending strikeout for the win.
Burton and McCarthy led the offense by each going 2-for-3 with an RBI while Lopez led the team with two RBI. Whiteside improved to 3-2 with the complete game, striking out five while allowing nine hits and four walks.
Game Two - #9 Minnesota State Mankato
The offense struck early again in the nightcap, putting two runs on the board in each the first and second innings.
Burton and Broderson-Jones were the catalysts again, getting to second and third without any outs in the bottom of the first. Makayla McCarthy hit a hard grounder off the pitcher to score Burton and two batters later Mirabella Klebart singled back up the middle to bring in Broderson-Jones for the 2-0 lead.
The Mavericks (15-3) got to starter Makayla McCarthy in the fourth inning with three two-out RBIs, cutting the Wildcat lead to 4-3.
But the Wildcats answered in the bottom of the fourth to separate themselves once more. After the first two batters got out, a walk and an error brought up Keara McCarthy. McCarthy hit her second home run in as many days, a three-run blast to put the Wildcats ahead, 7-3.
The Mavericks hit a solo homer in the top of the seventh, but Makayla McCarthy finished off her complete game with a pop up and a fly ball.
Annie Davila went 3-for-3 for the Wildcats while Klebart was the only other Wildcat with multiple hits, going 2-for-4. Each of the McCarthy sisters collected three RBI in the win.
Makayla McCarthy improves to 3-3 in the circle with the complete game, allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits.
The Wildcats are 3-3 during Spring Break and conclude their trip to Florida with two more games on Friday. They will play Mercyhurt at 9:00 a.m. before wrapping up their trip with Bridgeport at 11:30 a.m. at the National Training Center.