Stellar hitting and pitching sends No. 10 Virginia Wesleyan to opening-season sweep

MacKenzie Creech
MacKenzie Creech

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Rookie Blake Henderson (Virgina Beach/Ocean Lakes)wasted little time in making an impact for the No. 10-ranked Viginia Wesleyan College softball team.

In her first official time at bat as a Marlin, Henderson ripped the ball over the fence in the bottom of the first inning Sunday to help Virginia Wesleyan to a 9-0, no-hit, five-inning victory over North Carolina Wesleyan College's Battling Bishops at Marlins Field.

Her homer was one of two in an eight-run first inning for the Marlins, who took control when junior Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briar Woods) belted a three-run shot. Her home scored seniors Season Dailey (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox) and Lindsey Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield), who both singled in front of her.

Karagiorgis backed her hitting effort with standout pitching, combining efforts with sophomore Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial)for the no-hitter. Karagiorgis struck out eight and walked two in four innings, and Shipp closed with three strikeouts and a walk against five batters.

The 9-0 victory completed an opening season sweep for the Marlins, who defeated the Bishops 5-2 in Sunday's first game, highlighted by a stellar pitching effort by senior MacKenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange). She struck out seven of the first 10 batters she faced and finished the game with 12.  Creech walked two Bishops and allowed just two hits and two earned runs.

Virginia Wesleyan connected for 11 hits in the opener, led by Karagiorgis with three singles in three times at bat. Inzana connected for a double and single.

After the Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the third, North Carolina Wesleyan tied the score with a two-run fourth off a two-run homer by Paige Pritchett (Gordonsville/Orange County).  But, the Marlins regained the advantage with a two-run fifth inning that started with a lead-off single by sophomore Kayla Malkos (Roanoke/Cave Spring).  She advanced on a single by Dailey and scored on a sacrifice fly by Inzana.  Karagiorgis followed with a single to left to score Dailey for a 4-2 lead.

Virginia Wesleyan added a solo run in the sixth on a Dailey sacrifice to left.  She scored senior Andrea Shannon (Newville, Pa./Big Spring), who started the inning with a single and moved into scoring position on a single by senior Megan Zahnd (Chesapeake/Grassfield).

Brittany Manning (Portsmouth/Wilson) led off the top of the seventh with a double for NCWC, but the threat died there as Creech struck out two of the next three batters to end the game.

Cindy Allen (Gloucester/Gloucester) took the pitching loss for NCWC in the second game and Leanna Fann (Salemburg, N.C./Midway) absorbed the loss for the Bishops in the opener.

Virginia Wesleyan returns to play on Saturday, Feb. 22, hosting No. 17 Christopher Newport University at Marlins Field starting at 12 p.m.