LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Needing only one win to secure its first ever Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship, the Wilmington University softball team delivered with a 5-2 victory over Georgian Court in the CACC Tournament Championship game on Sunday hosted by Georgian Court.
The Wildcats (28-24 overall) rode the arm of senior Stephanie Sarris in all four games on the CACC Tournament, as she tossed another complete game and only allowed two runs. She threw all 28 innings in the tournament, leading the Wildcats to their first ever CACC Tournament Championship. The senior was named CACC Tournament MVP for her effort.
Like all tournament long, the Wildcats picked up early runs to swing the momentum, once again using the long ball to get on top early in the game.
After both the Wildcats and the Lions (31-22 overall) went 1-2-3 in the first inning, the Wildcats took the lead for good in the top of the second. Sophomore Ashley Bennett roped her team leading seventh homer of the season to straight away center field, as the line drive blast was gone in an instance. Three batters later, Miranda Pedersen didn’t want to be outdone, so she lofted one down the line in right that left the yard for her fifth homer of the season, giving the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead.
Georgian Court stranded a runner on first in the home half of the second, bringing the Wildcats bats back to the plate carrying the momentum.
Kelsey Doherty started the frame off with a single back up the middle before reaching second on a stolen base. Cambria Ziemba moved her up on a ground out before Colby Wyatt plated Doherty with an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead in the third.
The Lions received a leadoff single in the fourth from Alyssa Paradiso, but the Lions left a runner on first as the inning ended on a foul out as Sarris escaped another jam.
The Wildcats added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth, getting a leadoff double from Jen Fischbach before an RBI single from Michelle Panasiti brought home pinch runner Chelsea Botsch for the inning’s first run. Becca Stanley nearly hit her second homer of the tournament but the ball hit the top of the fence in left for a double, chasing Panasiti home from second for the 5-0 lead.
The Lions were in action again with a leadoff single in the sixth, but this time they were able to capitalize. With Taylor Boltersdorf standing on second, Dara Schroeder single into right field, allowing Boltersdorf to score easily. As the throw came to the plate Schroeder attempted to take second, but a nice cut-off by Panasiti and ensuing throw to second nailed Schroeder for the first out in the inning and halting the Lions’ run.
Trailing 5-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Lions put the pressure on Sarris and the Wilmington defense, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning. Two batters later, Bryana Smith singled to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate with one out.
Sarris induced Boltersdorf into an infield fly to Doherty at short for the second out of the inning but Schroeder kept the inning alive with an RBI single to left, putting the tying run on base. Stuck in a 1-2 count for multiple pitches, Sarris finally induced Paradiso into an grounder in the hole on the left side, which was snared by Doherty who tossed the ball to third for the final out of the game and the final out of the CACC Tournament.
Bennett went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double in the game while Fischbach, Pedersen, and Panasiti contributed two hits apiece. Pedersen also ended with a homer and a double for the game.
Joining Sarris on the All-Tournament team was Pedersen, Wyatt, and Doherty for the Wildcats. As a team, Wilmington hit seven homers in the four games, collecting 46 hits overall. They ended with a .377 team batting average for the tournament. The Wildcats also added eight doubles and a triple to slug .631 as a team.
The Wildcats earned the CACC’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament. The NCAA will air the Division II Softball Selection show on NCAA.com on Monday morning at 10 a.m. That is when the Wildcats will discover when and where they are playing next in the NCAA East Region Tournament.
2014 CACC Softball All-Tournament Team
Stephanie Sarris, Wilmington, MVP
Kelsey Doherty, Wilmington
Miranda Pedersen, Wilmington
Colby Wyatt, Wilmington
Alyssa Paradiso, Georgian Court
Dara Schroeder, Georgian Court
Justine Mattia, Georgian Court
Shannon Haukap, Dominican
Elizabeth Hogan, Dominican
Stephanie DeMartino, Post
Samantha Esque, Post
Alyssa Calderon, Caldwell
Bailey Walters, Holy Family
Samantha Riabko, Philadelphia
Kirsten Wilson, Bloomfield