NEW CASTLE, Del. - - Alyssa Velasquez hit a grand slam on Senior Day, leading the Wilmington University softball team to a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference split with Dominican, dropping the opener, 6-1, before catching fire for an 11-3 win in game two at Asbury Field on Thursday afternoon.
The offense was stagnant in the opener, but the Wildcats (16-14, 16-8 CACC) still took an early lead against the Chargers (19-13, 18-6 CACC).
Sara Miller laid down a bunt and swiftly beat out the throw with one out in the bottom of the first. She then used her legs again and swiped second base, and was then standing on third with two outs after a ground out. Lauren Lopez fisted one to second with lots of spin and the second baseman couldn't cleanly handle it, allowing Miller to score.
But that would be all the Wildcats would get in the opener, including hits.
Both teams went down in order in the second, and the Chargers used two-out magic to get on the board in the third. With a runner at second, a ball was hit in the hole at shortstop. Alyssa Velasquez made the back hand stop and her only play was to third. The throw beat the runner, but the runner snuck under the tag and was called safe. A walk loaded the bases with two outs and Andrea Hester emptied them with a grand slam to left for the 4-1 lead.
Dominican starter Shelby Smith retired 10 Wildcats in a row until an error to start the fifth, but she erased her own error with a double play on a pop-up bunt. She then set them Wildcats down in order in the sixth and seventh, retiring 19 of the final 20 batters.
The Chargers added on in the seventh, getting a two-out triple from Rajene Bowe that scored one run, the second run was thrown out at the plate, and then Rajene Bowe got caught in a pickle between third and home, but avoided the tag at the plate to score, all on the same play.
Alexandra Ballester took the tough luck loss once again, throwing four innings with three strikeouts. Molly Dill threw 2.1 innings while allowing an unearned run and Renamarie Rocha finished it with 0.2 innings with an unearned run as well.
Wilmington starter Haley Downin struck out the side in the top of the first and the offense didn't waste any time in getting on track in the nightcap.
Courtney Dellinger singled back to the pitcher and two batters later Kiersten Comer laid down a sacrifice bunt, but no one covered first base, loading the bases with no outs. Jess Ahearn chopped one to third that the fielder couldn't handle and then Lauren Lopez singled through the left side for the 2-0 lead.
Two batters later, Alyssa Velasquez deposited a pitch to deep right center, clearing the bases for her sixth career homer, and the 6-0 lead.
Downin struck out two more in the second, bringing the offense right back to the plate. Dellinger walked and stole second for the second inning in a row, and two batters later, Jess Ahearn singled into left field, giving the Wildcats the 7-0 lead.
Jess Ahearn was at it again in the fourth, going the other way with two outs, dropping one in front of the right fielder to score Isabella Eleazar. The ball scooted past the right fielder, allowing Kierten Comer to come home, giving the Wildcats the 9-0 lead.
The Chargers plated three in the fifth, but that's as close as they would get. The Wildcats ended the game early in the bottom of the fifth. Velasquez started the frame with a double, but the action came from Courtney Dellinger. She put down a bunt, but the throw got away from a covering second baseman at first base, scoring Velasquez on the sacrifice. Downin tried to score from first, but she was thrown out at the plate on the play. Dellinger kept running and the throw to third from the catcher got away, allowing Dellinger to come all the way around for the game-ending run.
Haley Downin struck out seven in the complete game while not allowing a walk. She is now 6-1 on the year.
The Wildcats have one doubleheader left in the regular season, as they head to Concordia to face the Clippers for the final time. Saturday's doubleheader begins at 1:00 p.m.