CLERMONT, Fla. - - A pair of last at-bat comebacks capped the Wilmington University softball team's trip to the National Training Center, scoring a run in the top of the seventh to defeat Mercyhurst, 2-1, and three in the bottom of the sixth to stun Bridgeport, 6-5, on Friday in Florida.
The two wins today gives the Wildcats a 5-3 record while in Florida, defeating two nationally ranked opponents. They finish the week on a four-game winning streak, improving to 8-5 on the season.
Game One – Mercyhurst
Starting pitchers Caitlyn Whiteside and Tori Pierucci put zeroes on the board through the first three innings before the Wildcats broke through in the top of the fourth.
With two outs and Mirabella Klebart on first base, Lexi Baughman singled to put runners on the corners. Alyssa Velasquez then put the ball in play to short, reaching on a fielding error to extend the inning and allow Klebart to score. Klebart then threw out a runner trying to steal second in the bottom of the fourth and Whiteside left a runner on first to hold the 1-0 lead.
The Lakers were able to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring an unearned run with two outs. A passed ball moved a runner up to third and the throw down to the bag got away, allowing the Lakers to tie the game, 1-1.
The Wildcats went down in order in the sixth, but was able to regain the lead in the top of the seventh. With two outs and the bases empty, Rosa'Lynn Burton started the rally with an infield single. Burton then got into scoring position by stealing second base. Pinch hitter Makayla McCarthy stepped in and roped an RBI single to left center to easily score Burton from second.
Whiteside allowed a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh but induced a foul out to Klebart to end the game, 2-1.
Six different Wildcats collected one hit each in the opener. Whiteside struck out two while allowing four hits and two walks. Whiteside improved to 4-3 on the year with the win.
Game Two – Bridgeport
The Wildcats started fast in their final game in Florida, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. But it was a late game comeback that enabled the Wildcats to extend their winning streak.
Rosa'Lynn Burton tripled to lead off the bottom of the first, followed by an infield single from Kiana Broderson-Jones. With runners on second and third, Lauren Lopez squeezed in Burton from third. The throw got away from the Purple Knights, allowing Broderson-Jones to come in for the second run on the play. Makayla McCarthy followed with an RBI dingle to right, pushing the Wildcats' lead to 3-0.
But Bridgeport responded with a four-run second inning, all coming off an error and a walk. With runners on the corners and two outs, the Purple Knights got on the board with an RBI single before they took the lead, 4-3, with three-run home run to left center.
The Purple Knights extended the lead, 5-3, with a one-out RBI single in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats left two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth, getting a two-out double from Broderson-Jones. Klebart hit a two-out single in the fifth, but again the Wildcats went quiet in the inning. They broke through again in the sixth.
A single and an error started the frame before Burton lined out to third. The third baseman attempted to catch Jazmeen Llamas off the first base bag, but her throw was off the mark, allowing Alyssa Velasquez to score the first run of the inning. A passed ball brought in Llamas to tie the game, 5-5, and Lauren Lopez squeezed in Broderson-Jones for what would be the game-winning run.
Starting pitcher Makayla McCarthy shut the Purple Knights down in order in the top of the seventh, improving to 4-3 on the year with the win. She struck out three while allowing five runs (one earned) on eight hits and two walks.
Burton, Broderson-Jones, and Klebart all finished with two hits against Bridgeport while Lopez finished with two RBI.
The Wildcats return north to start their typical regional play, stepping on the field again on Friday, March 16 at Shippensburg. The Wildcats home and Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opener is scheduled for March 17 against Bloomfield.