ASHLAND, Va. – Sophomore Candace Whittemore (Montpelier, Va./Patrick Henry) recorded a pair of complete-game victories on Sunday afternoon as the 16th-ranked and second-seeded Randolph-Macon softball advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Division III Ashland, Virginia Regional Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets (35-10) defeated fourth-seeded Franklin & Marshall 3-1 and downed third-seeded Averett by the same score to advance to Championship Monday against top-seeded and top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan. R-MC would have to beat the Marlins twice to win the regional title. Game 1 is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
This is the second NCAA Tournament appearance for the Yellow Jackets and the second time R-MC has reached the championship game. R-MC was runner-up to Christopher Newport two seasons ago in Newport News.
Whittemore (23-5) allowed four hits and one run against the Diplomats (17-23) with no walks and four strikeouts. She went 1 for 3 at the plate with two stolen bases and a run.
R-MC started the scoring in the top of the second. Freshman Shelby Hill (Mechanicsville, Va./St. Margaret's) had a two-out base hit, stole second and scored on a single by freshman Sami Davidson (Stafford, Va./Brooke Point) to make it a 1-0 contest.
The Yellow Jackets added to their lead in the third. Whittemore reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and came home on a two-out single by sophomore Savannah Wood (Tappahannock, Va./Essex) to give R-MC a 2-0 advantage.
After F&M cut the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the fifth, R-MC responded in the sixth as junior Harley Jones (Brodnax, Va./Brunswick) belted a home run to left center, her sixth dinger of the season, to give the Yellow Jackets a 3-1 lead.
Against the Cougars (29-20), Whittemore allowed three hits and a run with two walks and four strikeouts. She went 1 for 4 at the plate with one RBI.
After the Yellow Jackets failed to score in the top of the first, AU loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame. With two away, Casey Cook hit a liner to shallow center on which Hill made a running catch at her knees to keep the game scoreless.
R-MC lit the scoreboard in the second. Hill had a one-out double and scored on an error to give the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 edge.
AU quickly tied the game in the third before R-MC went ahead for good in the fifth. Wood had a two-out single, stole second and scored on a triple by Jones to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 advantage.
R-MC added its final run in the seventh as freshman pinch-hitter Taylor Sanderford (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by freshman pinch-runner Kayley Reese (Lake Mary, Fla./Lake Mary). Reese went to second and third on passed balls and scored on a squeeze bunt by Whittemore to make it a 3-1 contest.
Hill had a nice leaping catch at the fence in the bottom of the seventh as Whittemore set the Cougars down in order in the seventh to keep the season alive.
Hill and Wood both had two hits, including a double, a stolen base and a run for the Yellow Jackets.