Va. Wesleyan wins ODAC softball, Maroons eliminated by Lynchburg

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 Virginia Wesleyan College secured its second straight and 10th overall ODAC Softball Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon at the James I. Moyer sports Complext in Salem.

The Marlins beat Emory & Henry College, 2-0, in the second of two title games in the event’s double elimination format. It was the first time the “if necessary” game was needed to determine a league champion since 2007.

Home runs accounted for all six runs scored in the contests Sunday. Aside from those four hits, the two-game set proved to be more of a pitcher’s duel.

In the first game, Blake Henderson sent a solo shot over the left field fence to lead-off the second inning and give VWC a 1-0 advantage. That score would persist until the seventh inning as E&H hurlers Emily Kendrick and Tiffany Cole kept the Marlins at bay and VWC lefty Hanna Hull was well on her way to a NCAA Division III-leading 25th victory.

But Caley Hodge swept away those plans with one swing of the bat as she belted a three-run blast over the six-foot fence in centerfield to propel the Wasps to a 3-1 victory. The homer for Hodge was her third of the tournament and gave her 10 RBI over E&H’s seven-game run in Salem.

For game two, VWC head coach Brandon Elliott made the decision to start Courtney Wright in the circle in place of Hull, who had tossed three shutouts earlier in the tournament. Wright answered the call, hurling six shutout innings of five-hit ball to move to 15-0 on the season. Hull, who earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, closed the door on a 2-0 Marlins win for her third save of the season.

Both Virginia Wesleyan and Emory & Henry entered the tournament ranked in the Atlantic South Region by the NCAA Division III Softball Committee. The pair were also joined by Lynchburg College and Randolph-Macon College in the April 26 release.

The Marlins, who tied an ODAC record with their 43rd win of the season, receive the conference’s at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. They were in no danger of missing out on the 62-team field as they were slotted #1 in the region.

The remainder of the regional rankings will be something to pay attention to over the next week. Selections for the national field aren’t until May 7, with an online selection show on www.ncaa.com slated for 1:00 p.m. ET on Monday, May 8.

Roanoke College was eliminated Saturday by Lynchburg. The Maroons opened the tournament with a 6-3 win over Guilford but lost to Randolph-Macon Friday night, 5-4.

On Saturday Lynchburg eliminated the Maroons with a 2-1 win. The Hornets got the only two runs they would need in the bottom of the first inning when Taylor Mabry delivered a one out single that plated a pair of runs to make it 2-0 LC.

RC cut the deficit in half in its next at bat when it loaded the bases and Brooke Mason drew a walk to make it 2-1. That would be as close as Roanoke would get as Connor English tossed a complete game for LC, allowing just a total of three hits and striking out two. Teresa Wagner took the loss for RC, giving up two runs on seven hits.

Taylor CarterRuthie Williams and Becca Wenger each had one hit for the Maroons, who finished the season with a 24-17 record.