Home Longwood softball concludes historic season in NCAA Tournament

Longwood softball concludes historic season in NCAA Tournament


longwood logoIn a banner season for the Longwood softball program, the Lancers added another first to its resume by capturing its first NCAA Tournament victory in the Division I era Saturday afternoon at the Knoxville Regional.

The Lancers picked up its historic 6-4 win over in-state foe Virginia Tech in extra innings following a Justina Augustine two-run triple off the wall in right center to put the Lancers ahead for good. Saturday’s win in the Knoxville win marked the first victory for a Longwood team in the NCAA Tournament, as the Lancers finished one win shy of competing in the Regional Finals with its 2-0 loss to Utah. Longwood concludes its season with a 34-25 record, marking the third straight campaign with 30+ victories.

“We were really pretty pleased with our overall performance this weekend,” said Longwood head coach Kathy Riley. “We played really solid defense all weekend. Of course, we would’ve like to have won tonight and gotten another shot at playing Tennessee. That would’ve been fun for us.”

Of course, the Lancer softball program has set the standard for Longwood athletics since becoming a Division I member, as the squad is the school’s lone team to reach the NCAA Tournament. This season marked the second time in three seasons the squad has made an NCAA Regional after winning the Big South Title in 2013.

While the pinnacle of the 2015 NCAA Tournament run will be best remembered for its 6-4 extra-inning victory over Virginia Tech, the Lancers impressed throughout its two-day experience. Longwood proved it came to the Knoxville Regional looking to win, falling by just a combined four runs to SEC power Tennessee and PAC-12 power Utah.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to come here and get our first Regional win,” Riley said. “That was a big deal for us, but it wasn’t our ultimate goal.”

The senior class comprised of Megan Baltzell, Casey Lifsey, Libby Morris, Chelsea Sciacca and Katie Shinrock, will leave Longwood as one of the greatest classes in program history. The quintet has 143 career victories to their credit and is part of a nine-member group to have played in two NCAA Tournaments, along with the junior class of Carly Adams, Jamie Barbour, Emily Murphy and Rebecca Huitt.

“Our five seniors provided a great deal of leadership and experience for us,” Riley said. “They have each been here before and they helped our younger girls in terms of what to expect coming into the weekend.”

Baltzell will leave as the top player in the program’s history, becoming the first All-American in the Division I era in 2013 and earning back-to-back Big South Player of the Year accolades in 2014 and ’15. She leaves Longwood holding all of the major offensive records in school history and as the Big South’s all-time career leader in home runs, RBI and walks. In addition, she ends her career ranking ninth in NCAA history in career home runs with 76, including two seasons with 27 or more.

In the circle, Morris will leave Farmville as one of the most decorated pitchers to come through the program. She will leave Longwood fourth on the all-time wins list with 61 victories and in the top-five in career strikeouts. Morris will be remembered as a big-game performer, tossing Longwood to the Big South Championship in 2013 and 2015 to earn Tournament MVP honors in each season. The Dillwyn, Va., native has also started three of Longwood’s five games in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’ve lived with Libby this year back at school and I’ve learned a lot from her during the two seasons we’ve been teammates,” Elizabeth McCarthy said.


Longwood 6, Virginia Tech 4 (8)
Augustine ripped a two-out, two-RBI triple off the wall in right center field in the top of the eighth inning to send Longwood to the school’s first win in the NCAA Tournament, as the Lancers eliminated in-state foe Virginia Tech, 6-4, in eight innings of play.

The win marked the first ever for the program in the NCAA Tournament, since Longwood started competing at the Division I level in 2008.

Morris (10-8) earned what would be her final collegiate win, coming on relief for McCarthy in the sixth inning. Morris held the Hokies to just two hits in three innings of work.

After not scoring a run in its previous three games in the NCAA Tournament, the Lancers scored three in the opening inning against the Hokies to jump out to an early 3-0 lead. Glenn Walters posted the Lancers’ first RBI in Tournament play, bringing home Baltzell with an RBI walk. The Lancers would add two more runs in the inning following a one-out RBI single from Carly Adams and an RBI walk from Jamie Barbour.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth McCarthy got the start in the circle and was dominant for Longwood, as she was perfect through the first four innings of the game. She struck out three batters in those innings, as the Hokies hit just a pair of balls out of the infield.

“It was great to get a win in that first game, especially over an in-state rival like Virginia Tech,” McCarthy said.

Longwood added to its lead in the top of the fifth inning, as Walters notched an RBI single to center field to score Emily Murphy.

The Hokies had a response of their own in the home half of the inning, scoring four runs including back-to-back home runs from Katey Smith and Kelsey Mericka.

In extra innings, Augustine came through in the clutch for the Lancers after going 0-for-4 in the first seven innings of play. She stepped to the plate after Adams led off the inning with a single and Barbour singled back up the middle. After a pair of outs recorded by Virginia Tech pitcher Maggie Tyler, Augustine ripped the sixth pitch of her at-bat off the wall in right center field for the clutch hit.

Tyler (15-14) took the loss for the Hokies, working 7.2 innings and giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in 7.2 innings of work.

No. 23 Utah 2, Longwood 0
McCarthy tied the Longwood single season strikeout record, as Longwood’s 2015 NCAA Tournament run came to an end with a 2-0 loss against No. 23 Utah Saturday evening at Lee Stadium.

However, it was Sammy Cordova and Katie Donovan who stole the show for Utah. The duo combined to allow just three hits in seven innings. Cordova earned the win, marking her fourth victory of the season while Donovan picked up her seventh save.

Needing just a pair of strikeouts to match Brianna Wells for the single season record, McCarthy, the 2015 Big South Pitcher of the Year, struck out Marissa Mendenhall for the first out of the sixth inning to join Wells atop the program’s charts at 203 K’s in a season.

McCarthy took the loss, giving up two earned runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work. She gave way to Morris in the top of the seventh, who came on to get the final out of her illustrious career.

“It was an emotional moment at the end and I’m glad she got to go in there and get that last out.”  McCarthy said.

With one out in the top of the second, Anissa Urtez recorded a single to left field and then moved over to second with her fifth stolen base of the season. A couple batters later, Shelby Pacheco drove in Urtez to give the Utes a 1-0 lead with her RBI single to center field.

Longwood had an opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, following a single from Adams to right center. Walters, who was hit by a pitch one batter earlier, was waved around from first, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

The Utes added to their lead in the top of the sixth inning after Mariah Ramirez delivered a two-out single back up the middle to plate Kristen Stewart.

The Lancers put together one last opportunity in the seventh inning, following a single from Adams. Taylor Hedrick came to the plate and hit fly ball just in front of the warning track in left field to end the game.



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