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LAKEWOOD, N.J. - - A three-run sixth inning is sending the Wilmington University softball team to the Super Regionals for the first time in program history, defeating No. 2 seed and host Georgian Court, 4-1, in the resumed game from Saturday.
With the win, the Wildcats went 3-0 in the East Region #2 Bracket and advance to the Super Regional next weekend. The third seeded Wildcats will head to Garden City, New York, and take on the East's No. 1 seed Adelphi in a best-of-three series starting on Thursday.
"We finally broke through and won our side of the bracket," head coach Mike Shehorn said in the program's sixth regional appearance. "I feel like this was a long time coming. We've had opportunities to get to this point in the past, but this group was able to find a way. We had to overcome a lot of obstacles these past couple weeks and I'm so proud of this team with how they've been able to overcome adversity."
Sunday resumed starting with the top of the fifth and the score tied, 1-1. The Lions picked up a one-out single and two-out walk, by starter Kylee Gunkel induced a fly ball to escape the jam unscathed.
The Wildcats stepped up with their first at-bat of the day and got a one-out double from Haley Downin. The Lions escaped, however, as the Wildcats lined a hot shot right to the right fielder and grounded out to short to end the inning.
Gunkel then set the Lions down in order in the top of the sixth, and the Wildcats pulled off some two-out, bases empty magic to break the game open.
Tristyn Stewart chopped one to third and beat it out, but the throw sailed on the Lions and Stewart was standing on third base when the dust settled. The top of the order came up and Taylor Gillis smacked a single to left, giving the Wildcats the lead, 2-1.
Lexi Moore extended the inning with a single into left, putting runners on second and third. Lauren Lopez stepped in and went with the pitch to right center, easily scoring both runners to give the Wildcats a 4-1 cushion.
Kylee Gunkel allowed a one-out walk in the top of the seventh, but a fly ball and a 3-2 rise ball was swung on and missed, and the celebration was on in front of the circle.
"Gunkel may not have all the accolades some of these other pitchers do, but she's a winner and knows how to pitch," Shehorn continued. "For a freshman to hold down an offense like that is amazing. Include Rena (Renamarie Rocha) in that as well as she did an amazing job holding down that offense the other day as well. The two of them have accepted their roles this season and when their number is called, they've been able to get it done."
The Wildcats are 37-18 and will take on Adelphi (45-12) in the Super Regionals after the Panthers came out of the loser's bracket to defeat Caldwell twice yesterday. The Wildcats the Panthers split their regular season doubleheader at Asbury Field earlier this season.