A two-run home run in the bottom of the 16th inning dropped the Wilmington University softball team to the loser's bracket, but the team responded with a 2-0 victory over Pace to remain alive in the NCAA Division II East Region 1 Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Janet L. Ficke Field.
With the win over eighth seeded Pace, the fifth seeded Wildcats (34-17) advance to face a familiar foe on Sunday morning. Wilmington will square off against top seeded and Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opponent Caldwell at 10 a.m. in another elimination game.
Saturday started where Friday night ended, as the Wildcats and fourth seeded Adelphi needed to finish out the postponed game. The two teams played to a 1-1 tie after 12 innings on Friday, only to come back Saturday morning to determine a winner.
The Wildcats would strike first in the contest off of an extra base hit early on but the Panthers would tie the score, 1-1, in the fifth and would score later in the 16th, knocking the Wildcats out of the tournament.
Danielle Bradley walked and advanced to second base, as Michelle Panasiti would sacrifice her over to put her into scoring position. First baseman Colby Wyatt would then double to left center and drive Bradley in and put the Wildcats up in the second inning.
The Panthers would answer back three innings later however, as second baseman Nicole Camera would walk and then score after left fielder Krista King drove her home on a single to right center, bringing the score to 1-1 after five complete innings. The game would remain tied until called for darkness after the 12th inning.
Both team struggled to put runners on base, let alone scoring position, in the extra innings. The Wildcats left Cambria Ziemba on second in the 10th, Becca Stanley on first in the 14th, and Chelsea Botsch and Michelle Panasiti on second and third in the 16th, their best opportunity of Saturday morning.
Botsch, who tossed all 16 innings, left single Panthers on base in the 10th, 11th, 13th, and 15th innings. Panthers' shortstop Victoria Wink singled to lead off the bottom of the 16th before third basemen Brenna Martini cleared the bases with a game winning home run to give the Panthers the victory, 3-1.
Botsch would bounce right back however, getting right back into the circle against Pace in an elimination game. The senior only allowed a first inning hit through the first four innings, allowing the offense the chance to get on the board.
With one swing of the bat Bradley put the Wildcats ahead, 1-0, in the top of the fifth inning, leading off the frame with a solo shot to left field. Botsch again shut the Settars down in order in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings before the offense struck again.
With two outs and Bradley on first after a leadoff walk, Kelsey Doherty tripled to right center, chasing Bradley home for the insurance run.
A dropped fly ball and a walk brought the winning run to the plate for Pace in the bottom of the seventh, but Botsch buckled down and induced a fly ball out to left before striking out her fifth batter of the game to end the game, keeping the Wildcats alive.
The Wildcats left 13 base runners on in the first game and six more in the nightcap, unable to come up with the big hit or else the Wildcats would be talking about playing for a Regional 1 Championship.
Doherty batted 3-for-7 against Adelphi and 3-for-4 against Pace while Ziemba picked up two hits against Adelphi one more against Pace.
Botsch threw 15 innings against Adelphi, striking out 10 while only allowing one walk and 12 hits in the tough luck loss. She earned the win by going all seven innings against Pace, striking out five while allowing one hit and one walk.