SALEM, Va. (ODACOnline.com) - Virginia Wesleyan University catcher Jessica Goldyn swiped two bags to become the Division III single-season record-holder as the Marlins thumped Birmingham-Southern College, 12-1, to advance to a winner's bracket final of the double-elimination portion of the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament bracket.
Weather allowed for the completion of just one of four scheduled games on Friday, which led tournament officials to drastically change Saturday's format at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex in Salem. Play began at 9:00 a.m. with the continuation of a halted game from Friday evening between the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Two fields were used to start and complete four additional games Saturday morning and early afternoon before rain returned to Virginia's "Championship City."
Goldyn reached base in all three plate appearances and scored three runs as Virginia Wesleyan (43-5-1) registered a pair of five-run innings resulting in a shortened victory via the eight-run mercy rule over Birmingham-Southern (32-7). Goldyn's two steals marked the 70th and 71st of her season, eclipsing the Division III and ODAC record of 70 swipes former Marlin outfielder Courtney Bogan posted in 2016.
Not to be lost in the shuffle was Hanna Hull increasing her all-time Division III wins record to 130 victories with four strong frames. She fanned seven batters and walked three while giving up an unearned run on two hits before giving way to Emily Seale for the fifth inning. Seale, in her first appearance in Salem, gave up a hit in an otherwise blemish-free inning.
Birmingham-Southern didn't take long to open the game's scoring. Morgan McGuire reached to start the contest via a catcher's interference call when her swinging bat hit the glove of Goldyn behind the plate. Saydee Keith followed two batters later with a RBI double to right-center.
Virginia Wesleyan responded immediately with two in the bottom of the frame. Goldyn led off with a triple to right-center. Two batters later, Julia Sinnett hit a moonshot to left-center that just cleared the out-stretched glove of McGuire as she clamored over the four-foot breakaway fence for a two-run homer.
The Marlins broke the game open with five runs in the third inning. Arianna Rolle led off with a single and Goldyn followed with a line-drive double over the centerfielder's head to put runners on second and third. Madison Glaubke brought in Rolle with a sacrifice fly to left. Goldyn's speed affected the next two at bats as Sinnett and Danielle Stewart both ended up with bunt singles after Goldyn stole third and threatened to sprint home on either bunted ball. Katelyn Biando singled to right-center to bring around Goldyn and Sinnett, which also chased B-SC starter Hailee Bryan from the game.
Julia Piotrowski and Brooke Anderson replaced Stewart and Biando on the basepaths, respectively. After Anderson stole second, Piotrowski scored on a sac fly to center by Karlee Fretz. Two batters later, Kayla Womack brought around Anderson with a single back up the middle to extend VWU's lead to 7-1.
Virginia Wesleyan put another five runs on the board in the fourth inning. Goldyn walked and stole second before moving to third on a bunt single by Glaubke. The former ODAC Player of the Year then stole second base with Sinnett following with a free pass to load the bases. Two batters later, Biando doubled down the leftfield-line, bringing in both Goldyn and Glaubke with Sinnett stopping at third. Her proximity to head coach Brandon Elliott in the third base coaches box was short-lived as Fretz ripped a two-run double to left-center to plate Sinnett and Biando. Maria Weddle pinch hit and moved Fretz to third with a fly to right field. Womack singled deep to short to bring in Fretz for the game's final run. Womack, however, swiped second base before the end of the inning.
Both B-SC and VWU remain in the tournament field. The Panthers square off with Texas Lutheran University in Game 11 at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. Much like the Marlins, the Bulldogs have yet to lose as they look to earn back-to-back titles following their trophy-winning performance in 2019. Virginia Wesleyan squares off with DePauw University in a battle of the two top-seeded programs in the final eight in Game 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
If TLU and/or VWU win those two games, they would enter the best-of-three series for the national title slated for Monday and Tuesday. If B-SC and/or DU win Games 11 and 12, each matchup would be played again in Games 13 and 14 later on Sunday. A TLU/B-SC replay is slated for 5:30 p.m. ET, while a VWU/DU rematch would be played at 8:00 p.m. ET.
** If TLU defeats B-SC in Game 11 and DU defeats VWU in Game 12, Game 13 would not be necessary and Game 14 would be moved up in time to roughly 45 minutes following the conclusion of Game 12.