VIRGINIA BEACH -- Junior Lindsay Inzana connected for her fourth home run of the season at a time when the Virginia Wesleyan College softball Marlins needed it the most.
Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield) ripped her shot as the lead-off batter in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift the Marlins to a 9-8 lead over the Wasps of Emory & Henry College on a very cold Sunday afternoon at Marlins Field. The four-bagger was the 19th of the season for Virginia Wesleyan, the fourth highest total in program history and only four shy of the season record.
Sylvia Robbins (Smithfield/Isle of Wright) led off the top of the seventh with a double for the Wasps, but Virginia Wesleyan junior pitcher Mackenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) put away three of the next four batters she faced, including two by strikeout, to end the threat and the game.
Virginia Wesleyan's 9-8 decision improved the Marlins' Old Dominion Athletic Conference-leading record to 7-0 and their overall mark to 19-4. Emory & Henry fell to 8-11 overall and to 0-3 in the conference. VWC's win marked its 11th straight in the series with Emory & Henry.
It was anything but easy however, as the teams battled for the lead from the start, as Emory & Henry jumped out 2-0 in the top of the first inning when Ashley Ebersole (Maurertown/Central) ripped a two-run home run, scoring Kaitlyn Pruitt (Abingdon/Abingdon), who singled earlier.
Virginia Wesleyan took that lead away in the bottom of the same inning, scoring three runs with the help of four singles. The Marlins extended their lead to 6-2 with a three-run second inning, highlighted by a two-run double from junior Season Dailey (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox).
But, Emory & Henry tied the game in the top of the third, posting four runs off three hits, two walks, and a VWC error. The Wasps moved in front 8-6 in the top of the fourth, tacking on two runs with the help of a hit, two walks, and two more Marlin miscues.
The Wasps had little time to enjoy the lead however, as Virginia Wesleyan tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a pair of runs. The Marlins rallied after two outs, starting with a timely double to center field by rookie Taylor Galvin (Virginia Beach/Kempsville), scoring sophomore Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briar Woods), who led off the inning drawing a walk. Galvin scored the game-tying run when rookie Kayla Dost (Bristow/Nokesville Brentsville) belted a single to right center field.
Both teams left a runner stranded in the fifth inning and VWC's defense, and the pitching of Creech, retired the Wasps 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. Inzana was the first Marlin to step to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and delivered what turned out to be her game-winning home run.
Creech pitched the final three innings of the game and kept the Wasps in check, allowing just two hits and a walk. She struck out five of the 12 batters she faced as she improved her season record to 9-2. Karagiorgis started in the pitching circle for VWC and faced 18 batters in 2.2 innings, striking out five. She gave up four walks and six hits. Rookie Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial) pitched to 10 batters and allowed just a hit and two walks.
Brandy Bryant (Salem/Glenvar) took the pitching loss for the Wasps. She fanned one batter, walked three and gave up 13 hits and seven earned runs as she dropped to 2-6 on the season.
Virginia Wesleyan outhit the Wasps 13-9, led by 3-of-4 showings by junior Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker) and Galvin, the latter with two doubles.
Pruitt and Robbins led Emory & Henry with two hits each.
Virginia Wesleyan competes again in a key ODAC doubleheader on Wednesday, March 27, when the Marlins host the Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon College beginning at 3 p.m. at Marlins Field. It will be a showdown of current league leaders as R-MC owns a 4-0 mark in league play and a 19-2 record overall.