Hannah Ojeda's two-out walk-off single ended a 10-inning, three-hour affair as host and No. 1 Radford upended No. 5 Gardner-Webb, 1-0 in game 8 of the 2012 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting and Brookwood Farms Barbeque Friday afternoon at RU Softball Field.
After both teams struggled with runners on base all game, Ojeda stepped up a laced the first offering right back up the middle, plating junior Ryndee Ruch from second with the game winning run. Ruch doubled with one out to start the rally.
The Highlanders (34-19) move on to the semifinal on Saturday at noon will take on the No. 2 Coastal Carolina, a 3-2 winner over No. 4 Campbell.
Ojeda finished 2-for-4 on the day with a walk. It was her fourth game-winning hit of the season and second walk-off and she has now provided Radford with 11 game-winning hits or runs this season. Junior Jackie Jenkins picked up the win in 2.2 innings of on-hit relief as the Highlanders recorded back-to-back tournament shutouts for the first time in program history.
Micalah Sacre started and also had a strong performance in her longest outing (7.1) of her rookie campaign. Despite walking six, she made the most of her six strikeouts with several coming in key situations. She surrendered just four hits, three that did not leave the infield.
Jessica Childers put in a phenomenal performance in the circle for GWU, but was the tough-luck loser. She went a career-high 9.2 innings and struck out a season-best 12 as she allowed six hits and walked three.
Samantha Meenaghan was a menace at the plate, recording three hits and reaching two more times on errors. Savannah Burns and Melinda Dulkowski also singled for the Bulldogs
Gardner-Webb threatened early, courtesy of Radford miscues and some free passes, but Sacre was able to get out of all three jams.
A 5-6-4 double play with runners on first and second and a soft liner ended a first inning threat. In the third, the Runnin’ Bulldogs loaded the bases on two miscues and a walk with one out, but a pop up and a punchout.
After the early errors, Radford’s defense settled down and made every play, including three twin killings at opportune times.
Radford had its first scoring opportunity in the fourth as a double by Jessie Hutchens (Berwyn, Ill./Riverside Brookfield) put runners on second and third with one out. However, Childers recorded a strikeout and first-pitch foul out to get out of trouble.
Hutchens matched Ojeda with a team-best two hits.
Each squad put a runner on second with one out in the sixth, but both pitchers navigated out of trouble by catching their opposing batter looking to get out unscathed.
In the seventh, a pair of one-out infield singles put runner on first and second for the Bulldogs. Sacre settled down as she induced a liner to left and struck out her fifth batter of the game to send it to the bottom half of the seventh.
Jenkins came on with one out and runners on first and second and one out in the eighth. A ground out put runners on second and third, but she got a flyout to medium center to end another GWU threat.
Childers got out of Radford’s first threat since the fourth with a pair of strikeouts to end the frame.
Gardner-Webb’s Tom Cole "It was a great game. It was a tough game to lost, but we will bounce back. I give all the credit to Radford as they played a very good game. I am proud of the way our girls played. Jessica Childers was outstanding. We just could not get that one big clutch hit."
Radford’s Mickey Dean: “Pitching and defense won that game for us. We settled down after some early miscues and turned three key double plays and kept the ball in the infield. Our pitchers seemed to get a big strikeout when they got in trouble.”
Photo courtesy of RU Sports Information