Video recap at the bottom of the page.
Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of team holding the 2016 banner taken by Derek Crudele.
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - - For the second time in three years, the Wilmington University softball team has been crowned the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Champions, defeating fourth seeded Holy Family, 1-0, in the title round on Saturday afternoon at Georgian Court University.
Needing to win one game by coming through the winner's bracket, the Wildcats (31-21) did not waste the opportunity and closed the door. Holy Family (30-17) needed to defeat the Wildcats twice on Saturday in order to win the championship.
It is the second ever CACC Tournament Championship for the Wildcats, as they won their first ever in 2014 as the No. 5 seed. With the win, the Wildcats earn the CACC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament, making their third straight trip into the Regional Tournament.
Exactly like the opening game of the CACC Tournament for the Wildcats, it was the Danielle Bradley and Meghan Brown show on Saturday afternoon. Bradley in the circle and Brown coming up with a leadoff solo shot in the bottom of the third.
In the rare moments Bradley was in trouble, the defense stepped up behind the sophomore to keep the Tigers off the board. Bradley did not allow a base runner until the third inning, but she stranded a pair on first and second to escape the jam.
Out of the team's first jam of the game, Brown swung the momentum into the Wildcats favor, launching the first pitch she saw over the fence in left for her second homer of the CACC Tournament. The Wildcats continued to push in the inning, getting singles from Shannon Brantley and Cambria Ziemba, but left the bases loaded as the inning ended.
Bradley went back to work in the fourth, leaving a one-out double on third base before shutting the Tigers down in order in the fifth.
Holy Family threatened in the top of the sixth inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the frame, eventually loading the bases with one out. But the defense picked Bradley up as Brooklyn Lachette made a diving catch coming in on a ball at first base before Ziemba caught a hard line drive at short to end the inning.
The Tigers kept battling in the seventh, getting a leadoff single to put the tying run on base. Freshman Caitlyn Whiteside came on to pitch for the Wildcats and again used the defense behind her.
Looking to sacrifice the runner to second, the Tigers laid the bunt down but Kaitlyn Slater came charging in and made the play at second base to get the lead runner. Slater stayed on her toes as the next ball came her way again, as she made the catch on a humpback liner. Slater made it all three outs in the inning as she then caught a pop up to win the CACC Tournament.
Ziemba led the Wildcats with two hits in the game, tying the program's all-time hits lead with 200 career hits. She is now tied with Lindsay Watson as the only two Wildcats to collect 200 hits. Ziemba has at least two more games to break her mark.
Bradley struck out three batters while not walking a batter an allowing six hits for the win. She improved to 8-7 with the win. Whiteside earned her second save of the season with the scoreless seventh.
The Wildcats will determine who, when, and where they will play in the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament when the NCAA Selection Show airs on Monday morning. The selection show will begin at 10:00 a.m. sharp and can be seen at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.