Needing two wins on the regular season’s final day to earn the right to keep playing, the Radford softball team got it done Sunday afternoon, notching 2-1 and 6-1 victories for a doubleheader sweep of Winthrop to claim the last spot in the six-team Big South Tournament.
Hunter Mundy accounted for the offense in the opener with her first career multi-home run game and Marissa Gagliano led the way in the second, going 2 for 3 with a homer and two runs scored, while four others had RBIs. Abby Morrow earned both wins in the circle, including a complete-game in the nightcap, to give her 20 victories on the season. The Highlanders also played error-free defense in both games.
Radford finished at 27-25 overall and 8-13 in the conference, tying Gardner-Webb for sixth place and will be the sixth seed in the tournament by virtue of its 2-1 series win over the Runnin’ Bulldogs on the road in early April. The Highlanders will play third-seeded and host Longwood in their first game of the double-elimination tournament this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
The teams combined for just five hits in Game 1, but three of them were home runs. Mundy put Radford up 1-0 in the fourth with a bullet shot over the left-field fence.
Winthrop answered in the top of the fifth on a two-out longball by Ansley Gilreath. The Eagles then threatened to take the lead in the top of the sixth. After a leadoff walk, Morrow came on in relief of Kayla Huffman, but was greeted by a single to right by Paige Haley to put runners on the corners with no outs. However, Morrow got out of the jam with a strikeout and groundballs to Mundy and Gagliano on the left side, with the shortstop charging a slow roller on the latter for the third out.
Mundy then provided the game-winner with two outs in the bottom of the inning, blasting 1-1 pitch over fence in right-center for her seventh homer of the season. Her homers were the Highlanders’ only two hits in the game against Winthrop’s Kiley Majette.
Morrow closed it out with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two in her two innings of work. Huffman delivered a strong start with the pressure on, allowing just one infield hit before Gilreath’s homer with seven strikeouts and two walks over five-plus innings. She struck out six straight batters over the second, third and fourth innings.
Winthrop tallied its lone run of Game 2 on three hits against Morrow in the first inning, but Radford answered to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame with three hits of its own off of Keleigh Romine.
Gagliano led off with a single to center and a blooper off the bat of Medlam dropped between three Eagles in shallow right field. Both runners moved up on an illegal pitch and Summer Robinson tied it with an RBI single to right-center. Kayla Bishton then put the Highlanders up for good by grounding one to the right side for an RBI fielder’s choice.
Gagliano made it 3-1 in the third by driving a 2-2 pitch over the fence in right-center for her second dinger of the season and career.
The Highlanders got another in the fourth against an Eagles’ reliever, using a walk, two-out single by Lauren Maddrey, wild pitch and throwing error. They then capped the scoring in the six with two runs on two hits, getting back-to-back doubles by Mundy and Maggie Rowe for the first and an RBI groundout by Lindsey Toneygay for the second, following a sacrifice bunt by Brooke Trapuzzano.
The balanced offense totaled eight hits in the game – including two by Medlam – and provided Morrow with some welcome breathing room. However, she scattered just three more hits after the first inning and retired 12 of 13 batters before her lone walk in the fifth. She struck out three in the game and posted 20 victories for the second straight season.
— Courtesy of RU Athletics