SALEM, Va. | Virginia Wesleyan University recovered from an early 2-0 deficit powered by a six-run second inning en route to an 8-2 victory over Randolph-Macon College and the 2019 ODAC Softball Tournament title on Monday morning at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va. In addition to an ODAC record 12th league crown, the Marlins also earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Virginia Wesleyan (40-4) has hoisted four straight ODAC titles, making it just the second program in conference history to win as many consecutive softball championships. Roanoke College took home four trophies in as many seasons from 1999-2002.
While they didn't take the longest road to the winner-take-all championship in Game 15, the Marlins certainly didn't follow the shortest path to the trophy. After posting a 7-0 win over Shenandoah in its opening game, Virginia Wesleyan dropped to the lower bracket via a 3-2 loss to Randolph-Macon. The Marlins had to rattle off four wins thereafter just to have a shot at the league hardware.
RELATED: All-Time ODAC Championships | 2019 Tournament Bracket
Randolph-Macon (26-14) came out as the aggressor on Monday morning as the Yellow Jackets registered four singles by the first five batters against two-time reigning NFCA Division III Player of the Year, Hanna Hull. Savannah Wood drove in Kersitn Roth with a single to center for R-MC's first run, while Candace Whittemore followed a successful sacrifice by Brittany LaPrade to bring around Maddie Stone with a knock to left.
R-MC's 2-0 lead didn't last long as Virginia Wesleyan pushed down the pedal with a six-run second inning. With one down, Jessica Lindsay and Jessica Goldyn were issued free passes by Randolph-Macon starter Madie Rhoads. Maria Weddle smacked the first of her two singles on the day to load the bases. Danielle Stewart brought in the first run by earning the Marlins third walk of the frame. Beth Ford continued the station-to-station movement with single thru the left side to bring around Goldyn. Madison Glaubke followed with a grounder that was mishandled at third resulting in a two-base error that plated both Weddle and Stewart. Kaylah Duplain brought about two more runs with a single to left-center that also forced R-MC into a pitching change. Ali Celiberti registered the final two outs surrounding a single by Katelyn Biando, stopping the Marlins outburst at six runs for a 6-2 lead thru two innings.
The scoreboard remained silent thru the third and fourth frames before the Marlins tacked on two additional runs over the final two innings. Duplain registered her third RBI of the game with a bases loaded walk in the fifth for a 7-2 advantage. Goldyn provided a run-scoring hit to bring around pinch runner Krissy D'Arco in the sixth and cap the game's scoring.
Hanna Hull went the distance for the fourth time in the tournament to improve to 27-2 on the season. She gave up two runs while scattering nine hits. She did not walk a batter and fanned four to drive her NCAA Division III-leading total to 309. Hull was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player as she went 5-1 with 52 strikeouts in 39.2 frames over seven appearances in Salem.
Biando went 3-for-4 while Duplain, Weddle, and Ford each notched two hits. Duplain was especially effective in Salem as she slashed .500/.609/.900 with a tournament-best 11 RBI.
Rhoads was saddled with the loss in her lone appearance of the tournament, dropping her season record to 8-7. Celiberti, who provided R-MC with a big shot in the arm two games prior with a complete game victory over Lynchburg, threw the final 4.2 frames and slowed VWU's offense.
Virginia Wesleyan will wait a week to learn where it will play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The national committee will meet next Sunday to determine the 64-team field, which will be announced via online selection show at 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday, May 6.
Randolph-Macon, along with Lynchburg and Emory & Henry, will learn at mid-week whether they remained in the Atlantic Region rankings. All four squads, including VWU, were ranked heading into the ODAC Tournament. Teams must appear in final regional rankings (set for next weekend prior to selections) to be on the board for at-large consideration.
Listed below is a the full 2019 All-Tournament Team. For more information, visit the websites of any participating school, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com.
Mackenzie Chitwood | Lynchburg
Taylor Mabry | Lynchburg
Kerstin Roth | Randolph-Macon
Taylor Sanderford | Randolph-Macon
Candace Whittemore | Randolph-Macon
Savannah Wood | Randolph-Macon
Katelyn Biando | Virginia Wesleyan
Kaylah Duplain | Virginia Wesleyan
Madison Glaubke | Virginia Wesleyan
Hanna Hull | Virginia Wesleyan (MOP)
Jessica Lindsay | Virginia Wesleyan
Julia Sinnett | Virginia Wesleyan
Maria Weddle | Virginia Wesleyan