VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --- "Deja vu -- having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past."
Most people in the large crowd that ringed Virginia Wesleyan College's Marlins softball field on Sunday probably thought about the term during VWC's 8-5 loss to Christopher Newport University's Captains in the Norfolk Regional championship game.
Players and coaches from both teams had to feel the same way too as No. 5 CNU (38-6) jumped out to a 6-0 start, No. 9 VWC (39-7) came back strong to close within a run, and the Captains eked out a win by scoring timely runs at the end. That was the scenario in Saturday's 7-6 loss to CNU, and reoccured Sunday.
Christopher Newport once again posted a 6-0 lead, ignited by a three-run first inning that included a two-out, three-run home by Karlee Holzbach (Poquoson/Poquoson) in the bottom of the first inning. CNU added four hits, including a double by Rachael Shiflett (Powhatan/Powhatan), to add three runs for what seemed to be a comfortable lead for the Captains.
But, similar to Saturday's game, the Marlins did not fold and took advantage of what CNU offered. Senior Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker) led off the inning with a single, sophomore Kayla Malkos (Roanoke/Cave Spring) was hit by a pitch, and sophomore Kayla Dost (Bristow/Nokesville Brentsville) used an error to load the bases.
After that the Marlins took advantage of an error, two wild pitches, and a walk to help score three runs that took CNU starting pitcher Makayla Jenkins (Gloucester/Gloucester) out of the game. Krista Lewis (Chesapeake/Hickory) took over in the circle, but the Marlins used another batter hit by a pitch and a sacrifice fly to left by sophomore Courtney Bogan (Round Hill/Woodgrove) to plate another run. When CNU came up with the third out to end it all, the Marlins had cut the Captains' lead to 6-4.
Virginia Wesleyan closed within a 6-5 score in the top of the fourth inning when Dost belted a single to right, scoring Malkos, who reached base earlier in a fielder's choice.
VWC's scoring surge was complemented by an alert defensive showing by the Marlins, who shut down CNU's potent offense for seven straight batters from the third into the fifth inning. Sabrina Hill (Stafford/Mountain View) ended that string with a single, but VWC allowed nothing else that inning.
Virginia Wesleyan threatened again in the top of the sixth with two runners on via a Dost single, a fielder's choice by Season Dailey (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox), and an error that put Lindsey Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield) on base. But, CNU produced the crucial third out to end it all.
The Captains created some space in the score in the bottom of the inning, which started with a double to left center by Tori Clarke (Denville, N.J./Morris Knolls). The Captains used three more singles to help score two runs that pushed the lead to 8-5.
VWC's last inning at bat started with a pair of outs, but senior Megan Zahnd (Chesapeake/Grassfield) kept the Marlins alive with a single into left. Higginbotham followed with a single toright, but a fly ball ended the game, and the season, for VWC.
Virginia Wesleyan finished with seven hits, led by Higginbotham and Dost with two hits each. Candace Zollars (Chesapeake/Western Branch), Hill, and Clarke led CNU with two hits each.
Senior MacKenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) absorbed her first loss of the season in the pitching circle, falling to 16-1. She struck out one, walked three, and gave up four hits in one inning. Junior Kristina Karagiogis (Ashburn/Briar Woods) pitched in the final five innings. She struck out one batter and allowed seven hits and two earned runs.
Lewis picked up the pitching win for CNU, improving to 20-2 after five innings of work. She struck out two, walked two, and gave up five hits and one earned run in relief for Jenkins. Jenkins fanned one, struck out three, and gave up two hits.
2014 Norfolk Regional All-Tournament Team
College of Staten Island -- Jacqueline Cautela
Catholic University -- Tori Marcavage
Virginia Wesleyan College -- Tori Higginbotham, Kayla Dost, Season Dailey
Christopher Newport University -- Candace Zollars, Karlee Holzbach, Rachael Shiflett, Krista Lewis
Most Outstanding Player -- Sabrina Hill (Christopher Newport University
--- This release is courtesy of the Virginia Wesleyan College sports information department. ---