Hull's Gem Propels VWC to within One Win of Regional Championship

Hull's Gem Propels VWC to within One Win of Regional Championship

ASHLAND, Va. --- Virginia Wesleyan College lefty Hanna Hull increased her season strikeout total to 298 with 14 punchouts in the Marlins 3-0 victory over Averett University in Ashland on Sunday. The win moves VWC to within one victory of claiming the regional championship and a berth in next weekend's NCAA Division III Softball Tournament super regionals.

The Marlins (45-2) have two chances to move on to the super regionals on Monday as they have yet to lose in the four-team double-elimination event. VWC will meet fellow ODAC member and regional host Randolph-Macon College for a spot in the next round.

RELATED: Ashland Regional Website

Hull registered her 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season on Sunday morning against Averett. If she pitches on Monday against Randolph-Macon, she'll need just two K's to become the first pitcher in ODAC history to record 300 strikeouts in a season.

The Marlins's offense staked her to a lead even before she toed the rubber. Shortstop Kiersten Richardson led off the game with a single to center and then stole her Division III-leading 58th base of the season. The theft may not have been needed as second baseman Liz Bailey brought her around with a double down the left field line for an early 1-0 lead.

Hull went to work in the middle part of the game. She fanned the last batter of the first inning and then struck out the side in the second with a walk to Cougars' catcher Breanna Murphy thrown in between. The ODAC Pitcher and Rookie of the Year punched out one more in the third before striking out a pair in both the fourth and fifth innings.

VWC's offense posted what would prove to be two insurance runs in the sixth. First baseman Cassetty Howerin, the ODAC Player of the Year and member of the NFCA national player of the year "watch list" along with Hull, led off the frame with a walk and her 24th stolen base of the season. After rightfielder Blake Henderson sacfriced Howerin to third, Hull followed with a single to left-center for a 2-0 lead. LeAnn Adkins pinch ran for Hull and then stole second. That led to pinch hitter Teresa Cardamone's RBI double over the centerfielder's head to push VWC's advantage to 3-0.

Hull finished the game with a flurry of strikeouts as she fanned the final batter of the sixth inning before getting all three Cougars in the seventh to wave at strike three to seal her 26th win of the season.

Virginia Wesleyan has two chances to claim the regional championship on Monday against Randolph-Macon. The first contest is set for 11:00 a.m. on R-MC Softball Field in Ashland. Should the Yellow Jackets win the first outing, the second game is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m.