VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. - The University of Scranton softball team fought valiantly all afternoon in their first NCAA Division III Tournament game since 1983 on Friday against top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan, but the host Marlins pulled away in a 7-2 victory.
With the loss, Scranton (32-14 on the year) will move into an elimination game on Saturday against No. 15 Manhattanville, who lost the opener of the Virginia Beach regional to Lynchburg in a 12 inning marathon, 6-5.
In the defeat to Virginia Wesleyan, Scranton was held scoreless over the first three innings, as Virginia Wesleyan broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs off of Royals starter sophomore Meaghan Dowdell (Parlin, N.J./Old Bridge), making it a 2-0 game.
The Marlins would go on to score five more runs over the fourth and fifth innings to take a 7-0 lead on Scranton entering the sixth. There, sophomore Allie Hotchkiss (Baldwinsville, N.Y./Charles W. Baker) put the Royals on the scoreboard with one swing of the bat, as her solo home run made it a 7-1 game. The long ball was the first of Hotchkiss' career, as well.
After Virginia Wesleyan went down quietly in the bottom half of the sixth, Scranton threatened to make a game of it in the seventh, as the Royals put runners on second and third with one out. Then, junior Casey DeSarno (Wall Township, N.J./Wall) knocked home freshman Erika Witt (Suffern, N.Y./Suffern) on a fielder's choice, making it a 7-2 game.
But, that turned out to be the only run Scranton would muster in the frame, as Virginia Wesleyan opened the NCAA Tournament with a five-run win over the Royals.
Overall in the game, Scranton was only able to muster five hits against a strong VWU pitching staff. In the circle for the Royals, Dowdell (18-6) took the loss, allowing seven runs on 11 hits.
Scranton will now face Manhattanville on Saturday at 12 p.m., as the winner will move onto another elimination contest at 2 p.m. against the loser of the Virginia Wesleyan-Lynchburg game that will kick-off the day Saturday at 10 a.m.
For more on the Virginia Wesleyan Division III Softball Regional, click here.