CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - - Grand Valley State produced a four-run fourth inning to power the No. 5 seed to a 10-2 victory over No. 4 Wilmington University in the opening round of the NCAA DII Softball Championships on Thursday afternoon at Frost Stadium.
With the opening round loss, the Wildcats (44-15) will now face No. 8 California State San Marcos in an elimination game on Saturday starting at 11:00 a.m. CSU San Marcos lost to No. 1 UT Tyler, 5-1, in Thursday's first matchup.
The hot sun on the all-turf field, as well as the swirling winds in the stadium played tricks on the Wildcats in the opening inning, as the Lakers (47-6) capitalized off a one-double and a two-out RBI.
But the Wildcats quickly answered right back in the bottom of the first, as Lexi Moore and Tristyn Stewart singled with one out. Sara Miller than put down a squeeze bunt to tie the game, 1-1.
Kylee Gunkel stranded two runners in the top of the second and then another runner in the top of the third, but the offense faltered in those frames as well as the game moved int the fourth still tied, 1-1.
A double off the started the fourth in which the Lakers loaded the bases without an out. They would go on to collect five hits, scoring four runs before reliever Delani Sheehan got a grounder to short and a fly ball to end the inning, leaving two on.
The Wildcats got one back in the fifth as Lexi Moore lined a hot shot off the third baseman's glove, scoring pinch runner Dani Hess. Stewart then sent a liner to short, but the Laker made a sliding grab on the short hop and tossed it to second for the force out to end the frame with the Lakers in front, 5-2.
But then the Lakers broke it open in the sixth, scoring three more on only one hit in the inning. They tacked on two more in the top of the seventh as the Wildcats committed three errors and all of a sudden, the Lakers were leading 10-2.
Grand Valley State's Hannah Beatus finished her complete game with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out eight Wildcats while allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits.
Lexi Moore and Tristyn Stewart each went 2-for-3 with Moore and Miller collecting RBI.
Saturday's elimination game will begin at 11:00 a.m. at Frost Stadium.