R-MC Wins Twice to Remain in Contention in NCAA Softball Regionals

Candace Whittemore
Candace Whittemore

ASHLAND, Va. --- Randolph-Macon College combined some timely hitting with a pair of strong pitching performances by Candace Whittemore to win twice on Sunday and remain in contention in NCAA Division III Softball Regional play. The Yellow Jackets, facing elimination in both games, defeated Franklin & Marshall College, 3-1, before registering a second 3-1 result over Averett University at R-MC Softball Field in Ashland.

Randolph-Macon will need to win twice on Monday in order to advance to next weekend's super regionals. R-MC will meet fellow ODAC member and top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan College, which has yet to lose in the double-elimination four-team event.

RELATED: Ashland Regional Website

Whittemore needed just 76 pitches in twirling a four-hitter to defeat F&M in the first of two back-to-back games for R-MC. She dispatched the first 10 Diplomats she faced before surrendering a single to Sam Clemens with one down in the fourth inning. Taylor Long followed with a second straight knock for F&M's first threat, but that was quickly stifled via a double-play grounder where third baseman Jen Balcom stepped on the bag and fired across the dirt to Harley Jones to complete the inning-ending play.

Randolph-Macon got on the board with with a run in both the second and third innings. Catcher Sami Davidson reached via an infield single to second. The resulting throw eluded the first baseman, which allowed Shelby Hill to score the game's first run. In the third inning, Whittemore helped herself with a single and a stolen base. Shortstop Savannah Wood followed with a RBI single to right-center to make it 2-0 R-MC.

F&M cut into the Yellow Jackets lead in the fifth inning. After Megan Ryan singled and moved to third on Katie Wenger's hit to right field, Kelly Van O'Linda drove her in with a sacrifice fly to left.

Jones immediately regained a two-run advantage for R-MC in the sixth inning. After seeing just two pitches in her first two at bats combined, Jones saw three offerings from F&M starter Izzy Schaefer and turned on the third pitch, depositing it over the fence in left-center for team-leading sixth homerun of the season.

In R-MC's second outing of the day against Averett, Whittemore needed a few more pitches (96) but moved to 23-5 with a 3-1 victory in which she allowed just three hits. Her teammates staked her to another early lead with a run in the first. After Hill doubled and Maddie Stone was hit by a pitch, Davidson reached on an error by the third baseman, which allowed Hill to motor around from second base.

Averett got one back in the third inning. Katilyn Aherron, who pitched and defeated Randolph-Macon on Saturday, tripled with one down. Whittemore struck out Andrea Grant and appeared to be just about out of trouble, but a wild pitch allowed Aherron to trot in from third to knot the game 1-all.

Jones big bat was back at it in the fifth inning. With two out, Wood single to left field and stole second. Jones followed with a triple down the left field-line, bringing in Wood from second for a 2-1 lead.

R-MC tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Pinch hitter Taylor Sanderford walked and two subsequent passed balls moved pinch runner Kayley Reese over to third. Whittemore followed with a squeeze bunt back towards the pitcher Aherron, who tried to scoop and toss to the catcher in one motion but failed in the attempt. Reese crossed the dish standing up for the final run in a 3-1 victory.

The last day of the Ashland Regional begins at 11:00 a.m. on Monday with the first of two possible games featuring R-MC and Virginia Wesleyan. If Randolph-Macon wins the first outing, the second contest is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m.