Malkos

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Kayla Malkos stepped up to the plate like she had been there 100 times before this season.

Truth is, she had been at bat for Virginia Wesleyan only 13 times during the 2013 season.

She connected for her fifth hit of the season Friday, creating a three-run inning that lifted third-seeded Virginia Wesleyan to a 3-0 victory against Landmark Conference champion and second-seeded Susquehanna in an NCAA second-round game.

Virginia Wesleyan improved to 40-6 on the season, establishing a program record for victories. The Marlins advanced to play on Saturday against top-seeded Montclair State (43-3).

As a pinch hitter in the lead-off position in the bottom of the sixth of a scoreless contest, Malkos stroked the ball to right field to spark what turned out to be the game-deciding inning for the Marlins.

Malkos, who singled with two strikes on her, moved to third on a double to center field by junior Tori Higginbotham. Junior Kelly Keys followed with a perfect bunt single to score Malkos. Junior Lindsey Inzana sacrificed to score Higginbotham and rookie Courtney Bogan singled up the middle to send Keys in for the third run.

Susquehanna, which entered the game with a 38-7 record, had one more time at bat in the top of the seventh inning, but could not muster a rally. The relief pitching of junior Mackenzie Creech and the Marlin defense combined to keep the Crusaders in check. Brittany Devlin drew a walk, but never left first base.

Susquehanna was limited to solo hits in the first, second and fourth innings as the pitching of VWC starter Kristina Karagiorgis did not allow much. She walked two batters, struck out two and drew the Crusaders into five flyouts and six groundouts in five innings in the circle. Creech entered in the sixth and struck out two, while allowing no hits. The duo of Marlin pitchers faced only 25 batters.

Ashley Cole fell to 15-3 for Susquehanna. She struck out two and got the Marlins to hit into 11 fly balls. Anna Heggenstaller led the SU offense with two hits.

Higginboth, Keys, Karagioris, Bogan and Malkos finished with a single each for Virginia Wesleyan. Rookie catcher Taylor Galvin helped spark the defensive effort for the Marlins by throwing out two Crusaders trying to steal.