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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - - The Cats are headed to Tennessee!
For the first time in program history, the Wilmington University softball team is headed to the NCAA DII Softball Championship after defeating Adelphi, 3-1, in the third game of the East Super Regional Finals on Friday afternoon at Janet L. Ficke Field.
The East's top seed and No. 12 team in the country Adelphi forced the third and final game of the Super Regionals with a 4-1 win in Friday's first game, but then the second seed and No. 24 ranked Wildcats put three on the board in the fourth inning of game two.
Sophomore Kylee Gunkel knew what to do from there. She went the distance to improve to 23-5 overall on the year, getting a grounder to Sara Miller who threw out the runner from her knees to spark the celebration. The win propels the Wildcats to the NCAA DII Softball Championships, the final eight teams in all of NCAA DII, hosted in Chattanooga, Tennessee, next week.
The Wildcats only had one runner on base in the first three innings but then broke out in the bottom of the fourth. Lexi Moore led off the inning by reaching on an error. After stealing second, She came around to score as Trisytn Stewart's single went off the glove of the second baseman and trickled far enough away to allow Moore to scamper home.
Sara Miller made it 2-0 with a single up the middle and then two batters later, Haley Downin brought in Miller with another BRI single up the middle, and the Cats were rolling, leading 3-0.
Kylee Gunkel went 1-2-3 in the fifth but ran into some trouble in the sixth. The Panthers put two on with one out before Gunkel induced a fly ball. But the Panthers came up with a two-out RBI hit to get on the board, but then Gunkel got another fly ball to escape further damage.
Adelphi brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh after a leadoff single, but Taylor Gillis came diving in on a ball, made the catch, and threw it to first for the double play to erase the runner and bring the Wildcats to within a single out of the title. Gunkel then got the grounder to Miller at third to spark the celebration.
in the first game of the day, the Panthers got on the board with a run in the second and added two more in the third to take a 3-0 lead. Lexi Moore scored Emma Zimmerman in the bottom of the third to put the Wildcats on the board, but the Panthers answered with a run in the fifth as Lindsey Hibbs shut down the Wildcat lineup the rest of the way, forcing the 'if necessary' game.
More information about the NCAA DII Softball Championship such as seedings, opponent, and time of game will be announced on NCAA.com later this weekend.