GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - - A record-breaking and potentially program changing season came to a close for the Wilmington University softball team on Friday, one game away from reaching the NCAA Division II National Championships, as top seeded Adelphi worked its magic yet again to win the best-of-three Super Regional at Ficke Field.
After coming back to win two games on the final day, including coming back from a 3-0 deficit in their final at-bat, last weekend to even reach the Super Regional, Adelphi too games two and three, 6-0 and 7-2, to stave off elimination once again and win the region.
The Wildcats' season comes to a close, finishing the year 38-20 overall and advancing to their first ever Super Regional after winning the NCAA Division II East 2 Regional pod. The Wildcats graduate three seniors on the roster and return 15 student-athletes.
The offense struggled to get going in the opener while the Panthers broke out with a three-run fourth inning. Adelphi collected 14 hits in the game.
Gabbie Saucedo hit a two-out double in the first and Haley Downin was on second with one out in the second, but both runners were left stranded. After having the Panthers down with two outs and the bases empty in the third, they strung together three straight singles to get on the board, 1-0.
The home team broke the game open in the fourth, scoring three runs with two outs to take a 4-0 lead. Saucedo again doubled in the bottom half, but she was left stranded at third as the inning ended.
Adelphi added runs in the top of the fifth and top of the seventh innings as the Wildcats offense was held in check.
Saucedo went 2-for-3 with two doubles in the game. Renamarie Rocha fell to 13-3 on the year with the loss.
The Wildcats were able to get on base in the second game of the day with 10 hits, but struggled to find the big hit, stranding 10 runners in the game.
The Wildcats loaded the base in the top of the first with only one out. Haley Downin pulled a hard liner but the third baseman was able to reach up above her head to snare the line drive for the second out. The Panther's second baseman was then made a good play on a grounder to her left to rob Kiersten Comer of a hit and keep the Wildcats off the board.
The Panthers scored first in the nightcap, dropping in a single to left with runners on first and third.
The Wildcats took the lead in the top of the fourth, using their speed to move around the bases. Tristyn Stewart singled and then stole second. Taylor Gillis singled to second base and Stewart rounded third without hesitation. The thrown came to the plate in time, but the catcher obstructed the path of Stewart, allowing her to score on the call by the umpire. Lexi Moore then beat out a chopper to shortstop and Gillis did the same thing, rounded third and headed home, scoring without a throw to take the 2-1 lead.
But the lead wouldn't last very long for the Wildcats, as the Panthers came out and put runners on first and second with one out. They tied the game with an RBI single, then took the lead with another RBI single, 3-2. Now with the bases loaded, a two-run double, an RBI single, and a final RBI single gave the Panthers a 7-2 lead.
The Wildcats ran themselves out of the sixth and seventh innings on the basepaths, unable to get anything going in their final at-bats.
Kylee Gunkel became just the second pitcher in program history to win 20 games in a season, finishing her freshman season 20-12. Taylor Gillis, Gabbie Saucedo, and Tristyn Stewart had two hits each in the game two loss.