Lynchburg, Va. -- University of Lynchburg's softball team woke the bats up in the fifth inning rallying for four runs to come from behind in a 7-2 win over No. 18 Emory University in Game 1 of the NCAA Division III Lynchburg, Virginia Super Regional.
The 17th-ranked Hornets will look to wrap up the best-of-three series Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m. on their own Moon Field.
Sophomore right-hander Kayley Cox (Yorktown, Va.) nailed down her sixth save of the season for the Hornets, putting her in sole possession of both Lynchburg's and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's single-season saves record.
Cox entered for junior right-hander Alex Cisar (Sykesville, Md.) with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning (Lynchburg was playing as the visiting team.) and wriggled out of the jam without a run crossing the plate.
Cisar pulled a Houdini act of her own earlier in the ballgame. The righty came in in relief of senior right-hander Taylor Belknap (Arden, N.C.) in the second inning with nobody out and runners on second and third, and got out of the jam with two groundouts and a lineout.
Cisar earned the win, her 16th of the season, with 4 ⅓ shutout innings of work.
Things didn't look so good for the Hornets in the beginning. Emory scored a first-inning run after a leadoff triple by Jenna Wilson and the ensuing RBI single from Sarah Katz. The Eagles got a third-straight hit off Belknap, but the senior set the next trio down in order to escape the jam.
Meanwhile, Eagles pitcher Toko Miller held the potent Lynchburg offense in check as the Hornets managed just two hits in the first four innings.
Lynchburg finally broke through in the fifth as the bottom of the order sparked a four-run rally. Junior left fielder Carol Oberhelman (Washington Township, N.J.) tied the game with an RBI single up the middle, and senior third baseman Taylor Mabry (Bassett, Va.) gave Lynchburg the lead with a run-scoring single to right field. Lynchburg added two more runs on RBI outs by senior first baseman Mackenzie Chitwood (Ferrum, Va.) and senior catcher Brittany Coffey (Manassas, Va.) to take a 4-1 lead.
The Hornets rallied again with two out in the fifth, sparked by a single off the bat of sophomore right fielder Kortney Leazer (Remington, Va.), followed by another sharp single from Oberhelman.
Junior shortstop Kayla Hugate (Chesterfield, Va.) came through with an RBI single, one of her three hits, and Mabry followed with another RBI knock to make it 6-1.
Lynchburg extended the lead to 7-1 when Coffey led off the seventh with a solo home run.
Cox allowed a seventh-inning run but avoided any further damage to cinch the win.
The two teams will continue the best-of-three series Saturday, May 17 at 2 p.m. on Lynchburg's Moon Field. The Hornets will be the home team for Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3, which will follow the 2 p.m. start Saturday if the teams need to break a one-to-one tie.
Please visit the Lynchburg, Virginia Super Regional homepage for more information on Saturday action, including parking, which is imperative due to Lynchburg's commencement ceremonies.