Roanoke Finishes Fourth in NCAA Softball
Linfield Tops Maroons to Reach Semifinals
SALEM, Va. --- Roanoke's incredible run at the NCAA DIII Softball Championship came to an end after a 6-1 loss to #3 ranked Linfield College on Sunday night.
The Maroons battled to a fourth place finish in the tournament and ended their season with a record of 35-11. This is the 14th team in Roanoke College history to reach the final four in its respective sport. It is the second women's program to garner the accomplishment. Linfield (45-6) moves on to play Montclair State at 11:00 a.m. on Monday.
Roanoke made an impressive run at the championship that started with a 12-game winning streak ending in its loss to Montclair State on Saturday. The Maroons swept through the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament defeating Bridgewater College in the championship game. It was the first ODAC Championship for the Roanoke since 2006. With the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Maroons went undefeated during the Newport News Regional to enter the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2001. In the run to the conference title, the Maroons went 7-2 against top-25 teams, and 5-1 against top-10 teams including #1 Emory University in the Newport News Regionals.
Things looked up for Roanoke in the top of the first against Linfield. With two outs, Hollee Warlitner reached base on a single. Stephanie Clarkwas hit by a pitch for the second time on the day, placing runners on first and second. Caitlin Manuel reached first on a throwing error, scoring Warlitner, but then was thrown out trying to take second. After the top of the first, Roanoke led 1-0.
The Wildcats retaliated in the bottom of the second. Katy Brosig led off for Linfield with a single. She then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a single. Haylie Watson laid down a bunt of her own, scoring Mixsell from third, and putting runners on first and third with one out. The Maroons were able to get out of the inning without any more damage thanks to a runner leaving early and a Higbie strikeout. After two, Linfield and Roanoke were tied at 1-1.
The Maroons were able to get two runners on the base paths in the top of the third, but couldn't get them around to score.
Linfield took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third, as a sacrifice fly ball by Brosig scored Jaydee Baxter from third. Through three, Linfield led 2-1.
The Wildcats widened the gap in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Grace Middlestadt reached base on an error. She later scored on another throwing error that also scored Baxter. It was at this point that Clark came in to relieve Kelly Higbie. Clark would give up one more run during the inning, as Linfield led 5-1 at the end of the fourth.
Clark found her rhythm in the bottom of the fifth, retiring the side. She got the first two batters out in the bottom of the sixth, then gave up a solo home run to Emilee Lepp. Clark then proceeded to strike out the last batter of the inning. After six, the Maroons trailed 6-1.
In the top of the seventh, the Maroons were retired in order to end the game.
The Maroons tallied four hits with Bier, Warlitner, Manuel and Felice Lowery each with one. Higbie pitched 3.2 innings, giving up five runs off five hits. Only one of the runs that Higbie gave up were earned. Clark came in to pitch 2.1 innings, giving up one run off one hit.
Linfield's Lauren Harvey pitched the complete game, giving up one run off four hits and striking out six.
For more information on the NCAA Division III Softball Championship, click here.
--- This release is courtesy of the Roanoke College sports information department. ---