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Roanoke College managed only three hits and now plays
an elimination game Friday.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Roanoke College shortstop Stephanie Clark (left) tries to tag Christopher Newport base runner Candice Zollars during a play at second base.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Roanoke College junior Stephanie Clark steps to the plate against Christopher Newport on Thursday. CNU held Roanoke to just three hits.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Roanoke College softball team’s late-season swoon continued Thursday.
Fourth-seeded Christopher Newport squashed fifth-seeded Roanoke 8-0 on the opening day of an NCAA Division III regional tournament at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem.
The game was called midway through the fifth inning because of the lopsided score.
“It puts a little bit more fire under you,” Roanoke right fielder Hollee Warlitner said of the defeat.
Roanoke (30-13) has lost seven of its past 10 games.
“We just need to pick it up and learn to play together and trust each other again,” shortstop/reliever Stephanie Clark said.
The Maroons will face eighth-seeded Penn State-Altoona (27-11), a 5-1 loser to top-seeded Salisbury, in an elimination game at 10 a.m. today.
Christopher Newport (33-11), ranked No. 14 in the Division III coaches poll, will meet top-ranked Salisbury at 2 p.m. today in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
Roanoke will now have to go 4-0 to emerge out of the losers bracket, then win twice more to claim the regional.
“Now we’ve just got to do it the hard way,” coach Mike Mitchell said.
“We can run the table through the losers bracket,” said Warlitner, an Alleghany graduate. “We’ve definitely got the heart to do it.”
Playing at Moyer wasn’t of much help to Roanoke in the ODAC tournament, when it went just 1-2, and it did not help on Thursday, either.
In the first inning, Roanoke’s Kelly Higbie (16-8) walked three batters to load the bases. USA South player of the year Sabrina Hill hit a two-RBI single to right field. The ball skipped through Warlitner’s legs, allowing a third run to score on the error. Higbie was then pulled in favor of Clark.
“Sometimes you just miss by a little bit, and those end up with walks,” Higbie said.
Clark allowed an RBI single to Meagan Jones in the second inning.
In the third, Hill belted a two-run homer off Clark to extend the lead to 6-0. One batter later, Higbie returned to the circle.
“I threw it way inside on her hands and she’s just a strong girl – she really muscled it,” Clark said of Hill. “They’re just a good-hitting team. Wherever you throw it, they’re going to put it in play.”
CNU scored two more runs off Higbie in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk and a Hill sacrifice fly.
The Captains banged out 10 hits en route to their 10th straight win.
Whitney Haller (13-5) pitched a three-hitter, striking out four and walking two.
“She was just a little bit slower than what we’re used to,” Warlitner said. “It’s a timing thing. We tend to do a little bit better with a little bit quicker pitching. Usually slower pitchers have a little bit more spin to their ball. It makes it tough to hit.”
Roanoke went 4-0 to win last year’s NCAA regional in Newport News, beating CNU in the final to make the eight-team national championships for the first time in 11 years.
Roanoke 000 00 — 0 3 1
Christopher Newport 312 2x — 8 10 0
Higbie, Clark (1), Higbie (3) and Frick; Haller and Mitchell. W— Haller (13-5). L— Higbie (16-8). HR— CNU: Hill (9).
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