COLUMBUS, Ga.-- The Trine softball team advanced to the Gold Championship Bracket semifinals with wins over Ithaca and No. 8 Virginia Wesleyan Saturday in the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic.
The Thunder opened its day by using two big innings to defeat Ithaca 10-1 in five innings. The victory gave Trine the sweep and first place in Pool B to advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The Thunder earned the no. 3 seed in the bracket. Trine went on to defeat No. 8 Virginia Wesleyan 2-1 on a Kendra Marshall (Leesburg, Ind./Warsaw) walk-off RBI-single to advance to tomorrow's semifinals. Trine improved to 8-4 on the season and extended its winning-streak to four with two wins today. The win over Virginia Wesleyan gave Trine two wins over top-10 opponents in the last two days.
Game One: Trine 10, Ithaca 1 (5)
The Thunder scored all its runs between a four-run first and a six-run fourth to earn the victory. Kaylee Fox (Vermilion, Ohio/Edison) and Erica Robles (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) each picked up two hits to pace the offensive effort. Mollie Lovasko (Whiting, Ind./Whiting) earned the victory in the circle.
The Thunder loaded the bases with none out in the fourth to pace the way to the six-run inning. Fox, Noble, Lainey McCue (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake), Alison Lang (Rome City, Ind./East Noble) and Robles all picked up RBIs in the inning.
Lovasko fired three-plus innings of one-hit work to earn her second victory of the season. The sophomore walked two and struck out two.
Game Two: Trine 2, Virginia Wesleyan 1
The Thunder pushed across a run in the sixth and seventh to earn the victory over the Marlins in a pitcher's duel.
Justine Robles (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood) did not allow a hit until the sixth inning. At one point, the senior set down 10 Virginia Wesleyan hitters in a row. Robles allowed just two hits and one earned run in the complete game effort. She walked two and struck out five to improve to 4-1 on the season.
Mary Shipp nearly matched Robles as she allowed just one hit over the first four frames. Shipp scattered nine hits and allowed two earned runs. She walked two and struck out one.
The two starting pitchers traded zeroes until the Marlins pushed across the first run of the game in the top of the sixth. Cassetty Howerin took advantage of a first-and-third, one out situation with a sacrifice fly to right-center gap to score Courtney Bogan.
A two-out rally, jump-started by a Noble triple down the right field line tied things up. Noble drove the ball deep into the corner, just out of reach of the right fielder and dove headfirst into third with her first career three-bagger. McCue followed by punching a RBI-single through the right side to tie the score.
A leadoff single by Kirchner set the stage in the seventh. Kirchner moved into scoring position on a groundout, before an infield single by Erica Robles put runners at the corners. Shortstop Kierstan Richardson made a nice play to keep a Clark ground ball in front, but the infield single loaded the bases with one out.
Marshall followed and sent the Thunder home with the walk-off win, as the senior drove a pitch into the right-center gap to score the winning run from third.
Trine will face Texas Lutheran in the semifinals of the Gold Championship Bracket tomorrow at 11 a.m. The Bulldogs are ranked sixth in the nation The winner will face either No. 1 Texas-Tyler or No. 3 Christopher Newport for the Gold Championship at 1 p.m.