Video Recap at Bottom of Page
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - - A bottom of the seventh rally kept the No. 1 seed Wilmington University softball team alive in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament, defeating No. 4 Bridgeport, 5-4, in an elimination game on Friday at Georgian Court.
The Wildcats (37-13) dropped to the elimination bracket after a 5-2 loss to No. 3 Georgian Court in Friday's winner's bracket game. But then down 4-3 heading into their final at-bat of the elimination game, the Wildcats rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, getting a walk-off double from Tristyn Stewart.
Georgian Court scored five runs in the third and fourth innings, and that was more than enough to win the winner's bracket game, 5-2. The Wildcats scored two in the fifth and brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lions held off the Wildcats.
The scoring started with a sacrifice fly in the third, and then the throw to the plate got away, allowing the second base runner to come around and make it a 2-0 game. Two RBI singles and a bases loaded walk in the fourth made it 5-0.
Cassidy Zelano started the fifth inning with a double before Taylor Gillis walked and Lexi Moore singled to load the bases with no outs. But the Wildcats could only get two runs in the inning, scoring on a Tristyn Stewart sacrifice fly and an Isabella Eleazar two-out single.
Taylor Gillis started the seventh with a leadoff walk and Sara Miller kept the game alive with a two-out single, bringing the tying run to the plate. But the Lions induced a game-ending gorund ball to advance to the Championship round.
Lexi Moore went 3-for-4 in the game while Brooke Koehler went 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out three.
The Wildcats dropped the elimination bracket and found themselves in another tough battle with Bridgeport. The Purple Knights took a 4-2 lead in the fifth but then the Wildcats answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth and two in the bottom of the seventh to stay alive in the CACC Tournament.
The Wildcats struck first in the bottom of the second. Sara Millers started the inning with a sharp infield single. Delani Sheehan stepped in and drove one to the gap in right center, chasing Miller all the way around from first for an RBI triple. Isabella Eleazar followed with another sharp infield single to short, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
The Purple Knights answered right back, however, scoring on a sacrifice fly and a two-out double to tie the game, 2-2.
Bridgeport used a leadoff walk in the top of fifth to spark a rally, scoring on a two-out double just inside the third base bag and an RBI single back up the middle to make it 4-2.
A first and third play allowed the Wildcats to score in the bottom of the fifth, but the rally died before being able to tie the game.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the sixth inning and then Bridgeport stranded a pair on base in the top of the seventh as Delani Sheehan got a grounder back to the circle.
Sheehan then started the bottom of the seventh with a double to right center. Pinch runner Danielle Hess was moved to third and then Haley Downin tied the game with a squeeze bunt, but reached base herself with a base hit as well.
Now with two outs, Tristyn Stewart lined a ball all the way to the fence in left center, allowing Downin to score from first without a challenge, as the Wildcats walked off and stayed alive.
Delani Sheehan improved to 13-6 in the circle with 2.1 innings of relief and went 2-for-3 with a double and a triple at the plate. Tristyn Stewart went 2-for-3 with her game-winning RBI.
The Wildcats will face Georgian Court again on Saturday, needing to win two games against the Lions to claim the 2023 CACC Tournament Championship. The first pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. in Lakewood, N.J.