SALEM, Va. – The Emory & Henry College Softball Team (26-12) fought its way through two more elimination games in the 2015 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday but came up short in a third at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex. The Wasps eliminated three teams before exiting the tournament with a third-place finish. E&H earned three ODAC Tournament wins for the first time since the 2007 season, and achieved a program milestone victory in the process.
Game 10 - #6 Emory & Henry 3, #1 (No. 5) Virginia Wesleyan 1
Emory & Henry started the day off with an elimination contest against top-seeded and No. 5 ranked Virginia Wesleyan College. Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a single through the left side by Cassetty Howerin driving in Cortney Bogan, who led the inning off with a walk.
The Wasps answered to tie the game at a run apiece in the third on sophomore catcher Jordan Chrisley's (Dublin, Va.) base hit to right centerfield. Sophomore Brittany Scott (Elizabethton, Tenn.) scored on the play as a pinch runner for junior left fielder Hannah Bays (Abingdon, Va.) after a lead-off single.
In the top of the fifth frame, E&H took the lead. Junior pitcher Taylor Banner (Castlewood, Va.) put the Wasps ahead with a base hit down the right field line and was driven home by sophomore second baseman Riley Pudney (Beech Mountain, Va.) two batters later for the 3-1 lead.
Base runners continued to be at a premium for both teams the rest of the game but VWC got a pair in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Brandy Bryant (Salem, Va.) came to the circle and got the last out of the game to earn her fourth save of the year.
Bays and Chrisley both had two hits while Banner and Pudney has a hit and a RBI. Banner earned the win as she pitched a gem, scattering a run on seven hits and three walks over 6.2 innings of work with one strikeout.
The Marlins were led offensively by Howerin with two hits, a RBI and a walk. Mary Shipp took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched.
The win for Emory & Henry snapped a 17-game losing streak to national powerhouse Virginia Wesleyan. The Wasps last defeated the Marlins in a doubleheader sweep during the 2007 season.
Game 12 - #6 Emory & Henry 4, #3 Roanoke 1
In a rematch of their opening round meeting, Emory & Henry turned the tables and picked up the hard fought win, 4-1, over third-seeded Roanoke College. The win marked the 300th program victory for the Wasps.
E&H got off to a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a RBI single by junior first baseman Taylor Doss (Damascus, Va.) which drove in Pudney from second base.
In the top of the fourth, freshman right fielder Danielle Loving (Elizabethton, Tenn.) tagged her third round-tripper of the season over the left field fence to double the lead, 2-0.
The Wasps made it 3-0 in the fifth thanks to a fielding error which allowed freshman centerfielder Leah Elswick (Raven, Va.) to score from second base.
Roanoke closed the gap to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff home run by Rachel Guilliams but Emory & Henry got a run back to finish with a 4-1 victory on a sacrifice by Chrisley which drove home freshman Jordan Whitcomb (Rocky Mount, Va.).
Loving and Doss both had two hits and a RBI to lead the Wasps' offense. Bryant picked up the win in the circle allowing just one run on seven hits with five strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
Kelly Higbie suffered the loss with four runs on nine hits and three strikeouts while Becca Wenger added two hits for the Maroons.
Game 13 - #2 Lynchburg 2, #6 Emory & Henry 1
The Wasps found themselves playing their third contest of the day against Lynchburg College with a chance to face Randolph-Macon College on Sunday for the ODAC Championship on the line.
LC started things off with a run in the bottom of the first. Jessi Hall hit a leadoff single and was driven home by Leslie Bourgeois' sacrifice fly to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
Emory & Henry tied the game in the fourth on a solo home run by freshman third baseman Caley Hodge (Elizabethton, Tenn.). The rookie of the year candidate tied herself for second on the E&H single-season home run list with her league-leading 11th four-bagger of the year.
Both teams fought through a pitcher's duel with base-runners coming few and far between. Lynchburg earned the 2-1 win in the bottom of the seventh as Logan Walker hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Jessica Murphy after a lead-off triple to down the right field line by Bourgeois.
Lynchburg's Conner English earned the complete-game win, allowing one run on just two hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
Emory & Henry senior Roxanne Hillman (Clintwood, Va.) pitched impressively in her career finale, scattering five hits and two runs over 6.1 innings pitched.
E&H concludes the season with 26 wins, the third-most in program history, and a .684 win percentage. The Wasps put up 20-win seasons for the second year in a row for the first time since 2003-04. Their 10 ODAC wins during the regular season mark the first time since 2007 that the Wasps have reached double figures in league victories.
Emory & Henry will now await the announcement of the 2015 All-ODAC Teams which will be released in the middle of the coming week after the league's 11 coaches complete their voting.
-photo courtesy of Caleb Johnston, E&H '15