BUCKHANNON — It’s a great day to be a Golden Eagle.
The University of Charleston softball team advanced to their first NCAA DII College World Series with a 1-0 win over West Virginia Wesleyan College in Game 3 of the best-of-three series played at Culpepper Field on the campus of the Bobcats on Thursday.
UC dropped the first game of the afternoon 3-0 that forced a third game to decide the NCAA DII Atlantic Super Region Champion and a berth in the College World Series.
The Bobcats’ Morgan Bruce single-handedly dismantled the Golden Eagles that set up the deciding game, driving in all three Wesleyan runs with a solo home run in the second inning followed by a two-run single in the third inning. It would be all the support Wesleyan pitcher Sayaka Foley would need as she allowed just one hit to Charleston in the opener.
Alli Burdette would take the loss for the Golden Eagles, just her fourth of the season. Jessie Rowe was spectacular in relief, working 4 2/3 innings and allowing only three hits and no runs.
The deciding game was a chess match between Coach Ray Loeser and Coach Warner from Wesleyan. Both pitchers were nearly unhittable as Burdette and Foley scattered just six hits between them over 11-plus innings. But it was Charleston who broke through in the fifth inning with a single run which later proved the be the game winner.
Allison Evans, a Chapmanville Regional High School graduate, drew a leadoff walk then pitch hitter Natalie Beck laid down a sacrifice bunt with two strikes to move Evans to second with one out. Evans’ twin sister Jenna, also a former Chapmanville star, came to plate and belted a line drive to center field. Allison was waved around by Coach Loeser and slid around a tag at home to score the game’s only run.
A tiring Burdette entered the sixth, allowing a leadoff single followed by a sacrifice bunt to put a Bobcat in scoring position.
Rowe stepped into the circle in relief and was lights out, forcing two groundouts to end the Wesleyan threat in the sixth inning.
After a scoreless UC sixth, the Bobcats were down to their final three outs. Rowe got the first batter to fly to left then a Sportscenter sliding grab by Rachelle Toppings, a Logan High School graduate, set the stage for the final out. Sara Scoone hit a rountine grounder to Allison Evans at short, fielded it cleanly and fired a strike to Laura Ashlock to put Charleston in its first ever NCAA DII Softball College World Series in Denver, Colorado.
Burdette picked up win number 32 while Rowe claimed her seventh save of the season.
The NCAA DII College Softball Championship will be played between May 17-21 at the the Regency Athletic Complex Softball Field in Denver.
UC will open play Tuesday, May 17 at 9:30 p.m. EST against Adelphi (34-20), winners of the East Super Regional.