A pair of losses on day two of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament knocked the Wilmington University softball team out of the playoffs, falling to top seeded Caldwell, 4-3, in the winner's bracket before falling to second seeded Dominican, 3-0, in an elimination game on Friday at Georgian Court.
The Wildcats (33-16) scored three runs in the top of the first inning against Caldwell (33-12-1), but couldn't find a way to cross the plate again in the next 13 innings. The Wildcats were knocked out of the CACC Tournament by Dominican (32-18) in the consolation semifinal, finishing third in the CACC Tournament.
The first three batters reached base for the Wildcats in the top of the first inning against Caldwell, with the winner of the game advancing to the CACC Tournament Championship game on Saturday.
Kelsey Doherty singled and advanced to second as Cambria Ziemba sacrificed her over, putting both runners on as the throw from the pitcher to second was high and off the mark. Danielle Bradley followed with an infield single, loading the bases with no outs. Now with one out in the inning, Miranda Pedersen worked a full count walk to bring in the game's first run before Colby Wyatt sent a pitch to the gap in left center, scoring two more.
Caldwell pitcher Amber Padilla was able to induce a ground ball out and a strikeout to end the inning without further damage.
Starting pitcher Chelsea Botsch stranded two Cougars on base in the second inning, striking out a batter to end the threat with runners on first and second. The Wildcats then threatened in the top of the third, getting a two-out single from Pedersen. Wyatt struck out, but reached on a wild pitch to put two runners on base. Michelle Panasiti put a good poke on a pitch to right center, but the Cougars' outfield was able to track it down for the final out of the inning. Not scoring there would come back to haunt the Wildcats.
Botsch struck out the first batter of the bottom of the third and nearly had the second out but an infield pop-up was dropped for an error, putting a runner on. The Cougars followed with three straight hits; back-to-back singles and a three-run home run from All-Conference catcher Alyssa Calderon to put Caldwell ahead 4-3.
The Wildcats were set down in order in the fourth and fifth innings and could only muster two-out singles in the sixth and seventh innings. Panasiti had a two-out single in the sixth but was left at first before Ziemba collected a two-out single in the seventh and was stranded.
In the elimination game, the Wildcats had base runners on in all but the third and fifth innings, but couldn't come up with the timely hit they needed to break the ice.
The Chargers left two on in the second and broke through in the third. A lead off single set up an RBI double by All-Conference catcher Shannon Haukap, giving the Chargers the 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats had two runners on with one out in the top of the fourth, but a strike out and a fly out allowed Dominican to escape unscathed. The Wildcats tried to get something going with two outs in the fifth, as Doherty and Ziemba singled. But Danielle Bradley flew out to left to end the inning, leaving two more on base.
The Chargers added two insurance runs in the fifth inning on three hits and Dominican starter Emily Larson set the Wildcats down in order in the sixth and seventh innings to keep their season alive.
With three wins on Friday, Dominican advances to the CACC Tournament Championship against Caldwell. The Chargers need to win two games against the Cougars for the title while Caldwell only has to win one of a possible two games to earn the Championship.
The Wildcats' fate is in the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee in earning an at-large berth into this year's NCAA East Regional Tournament. The selection show will air on NCAA.com on Monday morning at 10 a.m.