NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Gettysburg College softball fought until the bitter end in the NCAA Division III Newport News Regional, avoiding elimination with an 11-4 victory over Messiah College, but eventually falling short to No. 11 Christopher Newport University 7-6 to cap an impressive postseason.
Gettysburg (25-16), which won three elimination games to capture the Centennial Conference championship a week ago, stared down elimination Saturday afternoon against Messiah (27-18) and put up eight runs with a two-out rally in the sixth inning.
The Bullets took the lead in their very first plate appearance of the day as sophomore lead-off hitter Sarahrose Jonik(Glenmoore, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) parked her team-best fifth home run of the season over the center field fence. Two more runs came across on a groundout by junior Meredith Taylor (Hamilton, N.J./Northern Burlington) and a double by senior Wendy Folfas (Westminster, Md./McDonogh) in the third inning to push Gettysburg in front 3-0.
Messiah rallied back in front, scoring a run in the fourth inning and then adding three more in the fifth, including two on a shot over the left-center fence by Carrie Fix. The Falcons held the Bullets off the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings, and stood just four outs away from advancing after getting the first two outs in the sixth.
Jonik worked her magic at the plate once again, drawing her third walk of the day and the rally was on for Gettysburg. Each of the next eight batters reached base thanks to six hits and a pair of errors. Freshman Shelby Baker(Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington) singled through the right side to plate the game-tying run and Taylor came up with a double to push across the eventual game-winner. A two-run single up the middle by Folfas made it 7-4.
Gettysburg was far from done as a double to the gap in left-center by sophomore Rachel Julie (Elmsford, N.Y./Briarcliff) scored brought across another tally and set Julie up to score on a single by pinch-hitter Emily Colline (Bridgewater, N.J./Immaculata). The final two runs came home on a double to left-center by senior Stephanie Leonardo (East Haddam, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall).
The Falcons put a pair of runners on in the top of the seventh, but a fielder's choice at second base and a groundout sealed the decision.
Jonik finished 1-for-2 with three runs, three walks, and one RBI. Julie went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, while sophomore Taylor Doi (Foster City, Calif./San Mateo) and Folfas each went 2-for-4 with the former scoring two runs and the latter driving in three.
Junior Morgan Clauser (Columbus, N.J./Northern Burlington) picked up the victory after tossing 1.2 innings of relief and allowing one run on two hits. She improved to 14-4 this season. Senior Aileen Reilly (Huntington Station, N.Y./St. Anthony's) threw the first 4.1 innings and tossed the final inning.
Gettysburg drew host Christopher Newport, which dropped a 7-6 decision in eight innings to top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan College, in another elimination game Saturday evening. Once again, the Orange and Blue struck first with Leonardo driving home a pair of runs with a single to center field in the second inning.
The Captains tied the game on a two-run double by Patty Maye Ohanian in the third inning and stole ahead on a run-scoring two-bagger by Savannah Couch in the third. The Bullets retaliated in the bottom of the fourth with junior Sophia Blasius (Ramsey, N.J./Ramsey) hitting her first homer of the season to bring in two runs. A double by Doi scored another run and handed Gettysburg a 5-3 edge.
Christopher Newport rallied by scoring four runs in its final three trips to the plate. An error led to the host's final run in the seventh inning and a 7-5 advantage.
Down to its final at bat, Gettysburg tried to rally once again and Jonik provided the spark. The sophomore singled through the right side to lead off bottom of the seventh and scampered home on a single by Baker. Christopher Newport leftfielder Saige Cisler laid out for a diving catch on a short pop by Taylor and tracked down the final fly ball in left-center to close out the game.
Baker finished 2-for-4 with one RBI to place the Bullets. Reilly took the loss to close out an outstanding pitching career at Gettysburg. The two-time Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Year, Reilly finished as the program's all-time leader in wins (56), appearances (100), games started (90), and innings pitched (570.1).
Gettysburg won its fourth Centennial title and was making its third appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Bullets won 20 or more games for the fifth consecutive season. The three seniors – Reilly, Leonardo, and Folfas – close their careers with more wins (109) than any senior class in program history.