Salem, VA --- The WPI softball team dropped its NCAA Softball Championship opener to top-seeded and national No.1 Christopher Newport, 8-6, on Thursday in Moyer Park in Salem, Virginia.
The eighth-seeded Engineers will now await the loser of the 2pm game between fourth-seeded Texas Lutheran and fifth-seeded Berry in tomorrow's 11am contest. CNU advances in the winner's bracket and will face the winner of Texas Lutheran/Berry at 4:30pm tomorrow. Rain is in the forecast for Friday. Please visit the WPI Athletics website or social media channels for any weather related changes.
Before the game, senior Lindsay Ambrosino (Chelmsford, MA) was named the NCAA Softball Tournament's Elite 90 Award winner. The honor is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
WPI broke the 0-0 tie in the top of the third inning, as a Sydney Russell (Arlington, VA) infield single scored Ambrosino, who had reached on a fielder's choice, all the way from second base. CNU answered with a pair in the bottom of the frame, as Caitlin Abernethy (Prince George, VA) and Bailey Roberts (Chesapeake, VA) launched back-to-back two-out solo homers to go up 2-1.
The Engineers wasted no time tying the game, as Kallie Case (Phoenix, AZ) blasted her third homerun of the season to make it a 2-2 game.
Christopher Newport again had a counter. A lead-off pinch-hit single from Katie Currin (Blacksburg, VA) scored on a base knock from Caroline Helmer (Chesapeake, VA) to put the Captains up 3-2. WPI used a groundout and a fielder's choice for the second out, but a walk put two runners on. Maddie Hool (Woodbridge, VA) then singled to make it 4-2, before WPI's Diaz threw out a runner at third to end the inning.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, CNU tacked on four runs in the bottom of the frame to make it an 8-2 game. Kaitlyn Hasty (Chesapeake, VA) got the first big hit of the frame with a two-RBI single before Meredith Brickner (Cherry Hill, NJ) also drove in a pair of runs giving the Captains a six-run advantage.
WPI had its own four-run outburst a half inning later, closing the gap to 8-6. A one-out walk to Alicia Salvalzo (Hudson, NH) set up Diaz who belted her third homerun of the season making it 8-4. After a walk to Case, Lazarus matched Diaz with another two-run shot, with her third HR of the season further closing the gap to 8-6.
After a scoreless bottom of the fifth, WPI could only manage a Sheehan single in the top of the seventh, shutting down any hopes of a comeback.
Kate Alger (Staunton, VA) got the win for CNU, moving to 14-0 on the season. She went four innings, allowing two runs on two hits with six strikeouts. Jamie Martin (Lorton, VA), who earlier in the day was named the 2022 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year, got the save, pitching three innings in relief, allowing four runs on three hits with five strikeouts.
Katie Martin (Bedford, NH) suffered the loss for WPI, going five innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Sophia Togneri (Hudson, MA) tossed an inning in relief, allowing one run on two hits.
WPI entered the game with just 13 homeruns on the season to Christopher Newport's 70, but out homered the Captains 3-2 today. The last multi-homerun game for the Engineers this season came on March 26 in a 5-4 loss to Amherst.