Video Recap at Bottom of Page
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - - A four-run third inning set the tempo for the 24th ranked and No. 2 seed Wilmington University softball team, as the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in East Super Regional with a 10-1 victory over 12th ranked and No. 1 seed Adelphi on Thursday at Janet L. Ficke Field.
For the second year in a row, the Wildcats (43-13) are one victory away from their first Regional Championship and a trip to the NCAA DII National Tournament, winning game one of the best-of-three series.
Squaring off against the newly named D2CCA East Region Pitcher of the Year Lindsey Hibbs, the Wildcats' offense went right to work as Taylor Gillis hit a leadoff double over the head of the centerfielder. Tristyn Stewart started her productive afternoon with a one-out single and then Taylor Gillis eventually scored on a passed ball for the 1-0 lead.
Wilmington starter Kylee Gunkel left single runners on base in the first and second innings, and then the offense broke it open in the third. The Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs in the third and then Tristyn Stewart beat the center fielder again with a two-run single, knocking Hibbs out of the game. Sara Miller added an RBI single, and Gabriella Saucedo squeezed home a run and the Wildcats led, 5-0.
Gunkel stranded two runners on in the bottom of the fourth and then shut the Panthers down in order in the fifth. Haley Downin, Bri Coyle, and Jess Reed started the sixth with singles, but the Wildcats could only add one run in the inning off an RBI groundout off the bat of Cassidy Zelano.
Adelphi broke through in the sixth with a two-out RBI single, but Gunkel picked up a strikeout to end the inning and leave two more on base.
The offense provided more four insurance runs in the top of the seventh. After Stewart and Miller singled to start the inning, Saucedo laid down a bunt, but the throw got away from first base, allowing a run to score on the play. Bri Coyle stepped in and delivered a one-out, two-run single and then Emma Zimmerman chased her all the way around from first with a double inside the third base bag, and the Wildcats were leading 10-1.
An error put the first Panther on in the bottom of the seventh, but Gunkel buckled down and got the next three batters out, including a foul out to Emma Zimmerman to end the game, 10-1.
Tristyn Stewart went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while Bri Coyle went 2-for-4 with two RBI as well. Taylor Gillis went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Sara Miller also went 2-for-4. Kylee Gunkel improved to 22-5 on the year, allowing a run on seven hits while striking out four.
Game two of the Super Regionals is scheduled for 12:00 pm on Friday, with the if necessary game to follow at Ficke Field.