Linfield wins twice, stays alive
Wildcats hit four home runs to survive duo of loser-out games
SALEM, Va. – The surging Linfield Wildcats will play at least one more day. The defending national champion Wildcats hit four home runs to survive a pair of loser-out games Sunday, eliminating Tufts 4-1 in the midday sun, then Roanoke 6-1 under the lights during the third day of action at the NCAA Division III Finals at Moyer Sports Complex.
Linfield (45-6) continues its quest for a second consecutive crown and third consecutive appearance in the national title game.
Lauren Harvey pitched a complete-game four-hitter in her second start of the 2012 finals. Improving to 19-2 for the season, she fanned six batters and walked three while weathering a late rally by the hometown Maroons.
Lepp went 2-for-4 and Baxter was 1-for-2 with a walk and two run scored.
After the Maroons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Wildcats knotted the game up when Katy Brosig singled, was sacrificed to second by Jordan Mixsell and moved to third on a single from Ashley Garcia. A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Haylie Watson provided the opening for Brosig to score.
The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out on Maroons freshman ace Kelly Higbie in the third, and Brosig came through once more with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Jaydee Baxter for a 2-1 Wildcats advantage.
Capitalizing on three more Roanoke errors in the fourth, Linfield plated three runs to bust the game open. Grace Middelstadt reached base safely on an error, then stole second. A single to left field by Jaydee Baxter and an accompanying fielding error by Higbie allowed both Baxter and Middelstadt to score unearned. Emilee Lepp singled to chase Higbie from the game with the Wildcats leading 4-1.
The series of Roanoke miscues wasn’t finished. Reliever Stephanie Clark hit Staci Doucette with a pitch. A double steal put runners at second and third before Karleigh Prestianni sent a bounding grounder to the infield, causing shortstop Caitlin Manuel to mishandle the ball and allow Lepp to score yet another run.
In the sixth, Lepp made it 6-1 with a solo homer to left field, her second of the day and sixth in four games for the Wildcats. In the bottom of the inning, the Maroons tapped back-to-back singles on Harvey but the senior righthander struck out Katherine Koury swinging to end the inning.