Marlins with "Wright" Stuff in Advancing to NCAA Championship Series

Courtney Wright won twice on Sunday against reigning national champion Texas-Tyler, moving to 17-0 and putting VWU into the national championship series.
Courtney Wright won twice on Sunday against reigning national champion Texas-Tyler, moving to 17-0 and putting VWU into the national championship series.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. --- It had been nearly a month since Courtney Wright toed the rubber in a game for Virginia Wesleyan softball. After 12 strong innings against reigning national champion Texas-Tyler, you would have never known.

Wright started a pair of must-win games for the Marlins on Sunday at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Tournament and won both outings via 5-2 and 5-3 decisions to move to 17-0 on the season. The two wins advance Virignia Wesleyan to a best-of-three national championship series against St. John Fisher College. The Cardinals (44-6) have not yet lost in Oklahoma City behind the stellar pitching of All-American Lindsey Thayer.

Play in the final series begins Monday at 2:00 p.m. ET with the first of two games scheduled for that day. If both VWU and SJFC win one game each, then the winner-take-all "if necessary" championship will be played on Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. ET. All games will continue to be streamed live on Go to the bracket and access Gamecenter for live stats and video.


Virginia Wesleyan (52-3) was focused from the start in its 5-2 win over UT-Tyler in Sunday's first outing. Kiersten Richardson led off the game with a walk and moved to second on a grounder by Madison Glaubke. Cassetty Howerin, who reached in each of her four plate appearances in this game, registered the first of her three free passes. Two batters later, Teresa Cardamone turned on an Alaina Kissinger offering and hammered it over the left field fence for a three-run homer, her second of the season.

That was more than enough for Wright to go to work on her complete game effort despite giving up two runs in the second. Wright worked around a leadoff walk in the first inning, but the same did not happen in the second after Mel Hinojosa reached on an error to start the frame. Hannah Moore doubled to put two runners on with one down, setting the table for Whitney Romero's two-run single thru the right side to cut VWU's lead to 3-2.

Wright was locked in from that point forward. After issuing a free pass to KK Stevens in the third inning, the Marlins' first-year righty set down seven straight Patriots before handing out her third walk of the game to Andrea Gonzalez in the sixth inning. That runner was quickly erased by an expertly turned 4-6-3 double play by Liz Bailey and Richardson.

The Marlins tacked on two insurance runs in the top half of that frame. Richardson registered one RBI, bringing around pinch runner LeAnn Adkins with a single to shortstop. Howerin took advantage of getting a pitch to hit two batters later, bringing around Beth Ford with a single down the left field line. That did leave the bases loaded, but reliever Miranda Leal got Blake Henderson to bounce into an inning-ending fielder's choice at second.

Wright, who last pitched in the ODAC Tournament championship game against Emory & Henry on April 30, sealed her 16th victory with a pair of groundouts and a soft liner to short in the bottom of the seventh.

RELATED: Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score

In a mild surprise, Wright returned to the circle a few hours later and again proved a big game pitcher. She surrendered just two walks thru the first 3.1 innings before Stevens doubled with one down in the fourth. Wright was quick to quell the threat, inducing a grounder to Kaylah Duplain at third and a pop to Bailey at second.

Two innings prior, the Marlins offense exploded for five runs with two outs off Leal, who got the start for UT-Tyler. Cardamone walked in between strikeouts by Blake Henderson and Jessica Lindsay. Duplain jumpstarted the Marlins two-out burst with a single thru the left side. Bailey followed with a basehit back up the middle, loading the bases for Ford. VWU's centerfielder worked a walk to force in the first run of the game. The Marlins then got a bit of help from Patriots' centerfielder Kaylee Prather as the All-American over-ran a shot to left-center by fellow All-American Richardson and couldn't hold on to the ball upon reaching back over her head. Duplain and Bailey both scored to make it 3-0 VWU. Glaubke tacked on the final two runs of the frame in a more traditional manner, sending a sharp grounder wide of shortstop and into left field for a two-run single and a 5-0 Marlins advantage.

UT-Tyler's offense finally got untracked in the fifth inning. Moore and Bianca Van Vlerah led off with a single and walk, respectively, with both moving up a base on a groundout to second by Lexi Ackroyd. Prather made up for her error with a single back up the middle to bring around both runners. Prather, who moved up to second on the throw home on her hit, advanced to third on a passed ball and came around to score on a tapper back to the circle. Wright got Gonzales to ground out to second to end the inning with VWU clinging to a 5-3 lead.

The Patriots went right back to work in the sixth inning as Stevens singled and moved to third on Romero's double to left-center to put the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. VWU head coach Brandon Elliott turned to Hanna Hull to get out of the frame. The Division III Rookie of the Year and recently crowned ODAC single-season wins record-holder did just that as she got Hinojosa to pop to shallow right before getting Moore to stare at strike three and inducing an inning-ending popout to short by Van Vlerah.

Hull made quick work of UT-Tyler in the seventh. A popout to second by pinch hitter Abby Hall was followed by a pair of swinging strikeouts by Prather and Cheyenne Thompson as Hull registered her fourth save of the season.