Chris. Newport closes out DePauw
Captains pound out three home runs to earn run-rule victory
SALEM, Va. -- Christopher Newport added another chapter to its remarkable season Saturday evening as the Captains downed DePauw 11-3 to advance to the winner's bracket final Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship.
CNU is now 36-10 and is one of two teams left in the eight-team championship tournament without a loss.
The Captains closed out the Tigers in five innings due to the eight-run rule. CNU used the long ball, hitting three home runs, and pounded 11 hits in the decisive victory.
"We did a great job putting the bat on the ball," coach Keith Parr said after the game. "We were selective and waited for the right pitches. We had a chance to watch DePauw on Friday and knew what we were up against. We're a great hitting team."
CNU didn't waste any time, plating five runs in the top of the first inning and jumping on DePauw pitcher Emily Bichler for five runs on four hits. The Captains were also aided by three Tiger errors in the opening inning.
After Bichler walked two, senior All-America third baseman Jessie Atkinson opened the scoring with an RBI double. She was followed by junior second baseman Jennifer Falin and sophomore catcher Chelsea Mitchell who each delivered run-scoring singles. Falin scored on an errant throw by DePauw catcher Amy Hallett, and then freshman designated hitter Taylor Dillow added another RBI single to make it 5-0.
DePauw answered with a run in the bottom of the first to make it 5-1, but the fireworks continued in the second for CNU.
Freshman right fielder Kristina McLaughlin opened the inning with a home run over the left field fence, her fourth of the season. Two batters later, Atkinson stepped into the batter's box and blasted her 16th home run of the year, a solo shot over the right-center field fence to make it a 7-1 game.
"We talked about the pitches she was throwing while we were in the dugout," McLaughlin said. "I was able to wait on the pitch and took it out."
Christopher Newport added to the lead with two more in the fourth inning, and again the runs came from a familiar source.
Jessie Atkinson came to the plate with McLaughlin at first after a single, and Atkinson clubbed her 17th home run of 2011, and 43rd of her career. The shot down the left field line made it 9-1.
DePauw scored twice in the bottom of the fourth on a pinch-hit, two-run single from Jamie Story to cut the lead to 9-3.
CNU then put the game away with two more in the top of the fifth on a two-run single from McLaughliln that scored pinch-runner Felicia Price and freshman shortstop Candice Zollars.
Sophomore pitcher Whitney Haller threw all five innings for the Captains, allowing three runs on five hits. She picked up the win to improve to 19-4 on the season. Bichler took the loss and is now 30-10.
Atkinson was 3 for 3 with four RBIs and three runs scored. McLaughlin was also 3 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Mitchell and Dillow each had two hits for the Captains.
The win followed an amazing come-from-behind 8-7 victory Friday night against Eastern Connecticut State. The Captains scored six times in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game, and then won it in the eighth with the deciding run.
CNU scored a total of 14 runs in the final two innings Friday and the first two Saturday.
Christopher Newport is now just two wins from capturing its first national championship.