Salem, Va. -- The Lynchburg College softball team's Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament run came to an end Saturday with a pair of losses to regionally ranked teams.
The No. 3-seeded Hornets fell, 3-1, to fifth-seeded Emory & Henry in the 2 p.m. winner's bracket semifinal, knocking LC into the 8 p.m. loser-out game with No. 1 seed and defending national champion Virginia Wesleyan. The Marlins defeated LC, 4-2, in that game to oust the Hornets from the tournament.
In their first game of the day, Lynchburg escaped a first-inning jam after E&H began the game with back-to-back baserunners. But junior left fielder Carol Oberhelman (Washington Township, N.J.) ran a line drive down in the gap and doubled the Wasps' baserunner off at second base for a quick two outs, and senior right-hander Conner English (Altavista, Va.) induced an inning-ending popup to end the threat.
Emory & Henry, which is ranked ninth in the Atlantic Region, got to LC pitching again in the second, however, with a leadoff single and a bunt fielder's choice that put two runners on with nobody out. After Lynchburg lifted English for sophomore righty Alex Cisar (Sykesville, Md.), the Wasps bunted the runners up a base before Lyndsay Boyd doubled home the pair for a 2-0 lead. Boyd came home to score on an Erin Anderson two-out single to add another run to the Wasps lead.
Lynchburg cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when junior catcher Brittany Coffey (Manassas, Va.) led off the inning with a triple to right-center. Freshman pinch runner Haylee Wood (Goode, Va.) came in to score on a bunt by senior center fielder Skylar Dickens (Virginia Beach, Va.), and Dickens reached on a Wasps error. She was stranded on base, though, as E&H ended the threat.
Lynchburg failed to get a baserunner on in the final two innings, unable to capitalize on a dominant relief performance by freshman right-hander Kayley Cox (Yorktown, Va.), who piched 1 ⅓ scoreless innings to end the game for LC.
English took the loss -- her third of the season -- while Tiffany Cole earned the win and Cameron Derr the save for Emory & Henry.
In the 8 p.m. game, Lynchburg faced tough pitching again in Virginia Wesleyan's Hanna Hull, the returning national player of the year for the defending Division III champions.
Cox started in the circle for Lynchburg and matched the All-American pitch-for-pitch, as both posted scoreless innings in the first three frames. VWU, the top-ranked team in the region and the nation, got to the freshman in the fourth, leading off the inning with a pair of singles and, after a groundout, scoring twice on Jessica Lindsay's two-run single to right field. English came in to relieve Cox after a strike and two more singles and surrendered another two-run single, this one off the bat of Beth Ford, for a 4-0 Marlins lead.
Meanwhile, Hull continued to stymie the Hornets' offense, taking the shutout and no-hitter into the fifth inning. Lynchburg mounted a threat with a leadoff walk from sophomore designated player Sarah Commons (Glen Allen, Va.) followed by a Marlins error that gave LC two on and nobody out. Lynchburg loaded the bases with one out on another walk, and Dickens brought a run in on an RBI fielder's choice to cut the deficit to 4-1. The threat ended there, though, as Hull induced a flyout to end the inning with the no-hitter still intact.
Lynchburg rallied again in the top of the seventh, sparked by a one-out, pinch-hit walk by senior outfielder MacKenzie Mount (Forest, Va.). The next hitter, Coffey, singled to right to break up Hull's no-hit bid and give LC two baserunners with one out. After a strikeout, Dickens slapped an infield single, and another Marlins fielding miscue allowed Mount to score.
Hull induced a popout to end the game, however, and set up a rematch of last year's conference championship with Virginia Wesleyan and Emory & Henry.
Lynchburg (30-12) will entrust the future of its season to the Division III championship committee, hoping to reach the national tournament by means of an at-large bid. The Hornets entered the weekend ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region.
2018 ODAC SOFTBALL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Outstanding Player: Hanna Hull, Virginia Wesleyan University
Kerstin Roth, Randolph-Macon College
Brittany Coffey, Lynchburg College
Conner English, Lynchburg College
Erin Anderson, Emory & Henry College
Cameron Derr, Emory & Henry College
Caley Hodge, Emory & Henry College
Katelyn Biando, Virginia Wesleyan University
Madison Glaubke, Virginia Wesleyan University
Carla Hall, Virginia Wesleyan University
Cassetty Howerin, Virginia Wesleyan University
Jessica Lindsay, Virginia Wesleyan University
Julia Sinnett, Virginia Wesleyan University