The Marlin's 19-inning win breaks ODAC record.
Virginia Wesleyan Athletics

SALEM, Va. -- Virginia Wesleyan designated player Lindsey Inzana clubbed a two-run homer in the top of the 19th inning to supply the winning runs and secure the 2013 ODAC title with an 8-6 victory against Shenandoah on Monday at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex. The win awarded the Marlins (38-6) the conference’s automatic entry into the NCAA tournament.

The 19-inning affair is the longest in ODAC history and just two frames short of the NCAA Division III record. The previous league mark was 15 innings set in 2000 by Roanoke against Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The NCAA standard was established in 1992 and featured a 21-frame contest between SUNY-Cortland and Le Moyne.

Monday’s game, which was rescheduled from Sunday following a day’s worth of rain in the Roanoke Valley, marked the first championship game appearance for Shenandoah (27-18) since it joined the league as the 14th full-time member in July. The Hornets won five consecutive games to reach the tournament’s final showcase, playing out of the loser’s bracket after dropping their opening contest on Friday.

For Virginia Wesleyan, the championship marks the seventh overall and second softball title in the last three years for head coach Brandon Elliott’s squad. The Marlins join Salisbury and Christopher Newport as teams ranked in the Atlantic Region that have earned automatic NCAA bids out of their respective conferences.

Virginia Wesleyan and Shenandoah combined to throw 530 pitches, send 153 batters to the plate and smack 32 combined hits in a contest that took more than four hours to complete. Virginia Wesleyan cracked the scoreboard first with a run in both the fourth and fifth innings. Third baseman Kayla Dost drove first baseman Season Dailey across the dish with an RBI single back up the middle for the game’s first run. The following frame, starting pitcher Kristina Karagiorgis plated centerfielder Tori Higginbotham with a sacrifice fly to left, making it 2-0 VWC after 4.5 innings.

Shenandoah didn’t change over its line score until the bottom of the sixth with a pair of runs to knot the game. After centerfielder Morgan Coble popped up to second base in foul ground the return throw to the infield eluded all VWC defenders, allowing designated player Brittany Guepe to run home from third. Leftfielder Kimberly Brady followed with a single through the right side to bring around catcher Denise Mitchell from second.

Scoring stagnated through the next five innings, although both teams had their chances. In the eighth inning, Shenandoah got a lead-off double from Mitchell, only to see her stranded at third when MacKenzie Creech induced a pair of pop-ups. In the 11th inning, the Marlins saw left fielder Courtney Bogan run to third base with two outs after legging out a bunt single, stealing second and advancing to third on the subsequent overthrow. But she was left standing 60 feet from home after a line out to center field ended the threat.

Virginia Wesleyan seemed ready to lock up the contest with four runs in the top of the 12th. Shortstop Andrea Shannon singled to right field and was immediately driven in by a double to deep center by Higginbotham. After second baseman Kelly Keys sacrificed the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player to third and Karagiorgis was hit by a pitch and stole second uncontested, Inzana plated Higginbotham with a sac fly to left. Dailey followed with a two-run blast in the same direction, giving VWC a four-run lead at 6-2.

Shenandoah responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame. After third baseman Emily Wilson led off with a single, second baseman Madison Bradley struck out and Guepe was foiled in her attempt for a bunt base hit, which moved Wilson to second. Mitchell started the two-out magic with a run-scoring single back up the middle. After Coble walked, Brady pulled a single to left field, scoring Mitchell. Both Brady and Coble moved up on the throw home, placing runners on second and third. Shortstop Heather Sink bounced one to deep short for an infield single, scoring Coble and moving Brady to third. First baseman Lauren McCabe drove in Brady with a single to right, locking the score at six.

Pitching, which had been sound all game, kept the scoreboard unmoved for nearly a full-game’s worth of innings until the top of the 19th when Inzana broke through with her second hit of the game and fifth of the tournament.

The Marlins used three pitchers, all working at least 5.2 innings.  Mary Shipp (2-0) picked up the win with six innings of shutout ball, allowing four hits while fanning four. Stephanie Cameron (17-6) was tagged with the loss for SU. She hurled the first 11.2 innings before being replaced by Megan Tripp. Cameron returned in the 17th inning, increasing her daily total to 14.2 innings in the circle. She gave up eight runs, seven earned, on 13 hits with two walks and a game-best 12 strikeouts. She struck out a tournament-high 35 batters in 33.2 innings covering five appearances.

Higginbotham, Dailey, Bogan and Dost all notched three hits for VWC. Inzana drove in three runs, while Dailey plated a pair. SU’s Mitchell led all hitters with five hits, while Sink collected three knocks.