TAMPA, Fla. -- No. 5 Tampa (32-6) opened NCAA Division II South Region play with a 3-2 walk-off victory versus Delta State on (30-30) Friday evening at Naimoli Family Field.
Tampa, the No. 2 seed and host of the four-team regional, won the second contest of the day as the No. 3 seed Valdosta State defeated No. 6 Palm Beach Atlantic in the first game of the day 7-2.
Senior Kayla Cox started for the Spartans and earned her 17th victory of the season. She tossed a complete game with nine strikeouts while allowing two runs on two hits.
The Tampa offense began the game with three straight hits as Kayleen Boatwright delivered a lead-off double followed by a Kandi Kuder bunt single. Meagan Burke followed with an RBI infield single to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.
UT added another run in the bottom of the third off a Delta State throwing error. Kuder singled to begin the inning and advanced to third after two wild pitches. Burke followed with a walk and stole second to draw a throw which went into center field allowing Kuder to give the Spartans a 2-0 advantage.
Delta State answered with a rally in the top of the fourth on a clutch two out RBI single by Mariah Alvarez to even the score at 2-2.
The game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the seventh to set the stage for the Tampa offense. Boatwright delivered a lead-off triple to deep center field and came around to score the winning run off a Delta State throwing error giving the Spartans a 3-2 win.
Jenna Halper also contributed for the Spartans with a base hit to total seven in the game.
Tampa will now meet Valdosta State at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to Sunday’s regional semifinal. Palm Beach Atlantic and Delta State will face off at 3:30 in an elimination game.