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NEW CASTLE, Del. - - The tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the First Round of the NCAA Division II East Region 2 Softball Tournament, with the 2nd seeded Wilmington University Wildcats coming out on top, 2-1, over 7th seeded Pace on Thursday afternoon at Asbury Field.
With the win, the Wildcats (40-13) move into the winner's bracket and will face a familiar foe in Georgian Court, who defeated Franklin Pierce, 4-3, in the opening game of the day. It will be the sixth time this season that the Wildcats and Lions will face off. The Wildcats are 4-1 against the Lions this year.
The offense struggled to come up with the big hit on Thursday, as Taylor Gillis was left stranded at third in the first inning and Delani Sheehan and Gabriella Saucedo were left stranded at second and third in the second. The Wildcats had runners in scoring position in every inning but the sixth, and only scored in the third.
With two outs and the bases empty in the third, Tristyn Stewart started a rally with a single back up the middle. Then Sara Miller delivered a two-run blast to right center for her 10th homer of the year, giving the Wildcats the 2-0 lead. The 10 home runs tie Annie Davila for most in a single season while the two RBI give her 62 on the year, breaking Lauren Lopez's single-season record as well.
Kylee Gunkel kept the Setters (26-24) hitless until the top of the fifth inning, where they came up with three hits, including a two-out RBI double to cut it to 2-1.
Delani Sheehan came on in the sixth and went 1-2-3. She allowed a one-out single in the seventh, and then a bad-hop single put two Setters on pace with two outs. Pace beat out a squib to first base, but Haley Downin stuck with the play as Pace was trying to score. Downin threw home and Emma Zimmerman applied the tag at the plate, ending the game, 2-1.
Kylee Gunkel (20-5) ties her own single-season program record with her 20th win, as she also had 20 wins last year as a freshman. Caitlyn Whiteside also won 20 games in 2019. Delani Sheehan picked up her third save of the season.
Friday's winner's bracket game begins at 10:00 a.m. at Asbury Field.