VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Fourth-ranked Randolph-Macon defeated No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan in the nightcap of a doubleheader in Virginia Beach 2-1. The win by R-MC (31-3, 10-2 ODAC) handed the Marlins (35-1, 13-1 ODAC) their first loss of the season and marked one of the most signature wins in the program's history.
Freshman Madie Rhoads (Portsmouth, Va. / Nansemond River) secured the win in the game, striking out nine. Coming in to the day, Rhoads' earned run average was fourth in the nation at 0.59, also a conference best. Rhoads remains undefeated this season – now 10-0 on the season.
Between the two games, three of the nation's top ten pitchers faced off as Rhoads, junior Candace Whittemore (Montpelier, Va. / Patrick Henry) and Virginia Wesleyan's Hanna Hull took the circle, allowing a combined 13 hits between two games and striking out a total of 27 batters. The three were first, second and third in the conference respectively for ERA coming into the game as well as fourth, fifth and sixth in the nation respectively.
Randolph-Macon faces Roanoke on Saturday at 1:00 PM. The games will be played at Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville, Va. The team will return home Sunday to face Guilford in a makeup date. Those games will begin at 3:00 PM.
Additionally, a makeup date has been set for last weekend's canceled games with Randolph. The games will be made up on Tuesday, April 24 at 3:00 and 5:00 PM in Lynchburg.
Virginia Wesleyan 2, Randolph-Macon 1 (8 Innings)
In the afternoon's first game, Virginia Wesleyan got a leadoff walk to start their half of the first inning. After a steal and a groundout, a Marlin double put the first score on the board.
The two teams went seven innings without another score on the board. Much of that success was a credit to Whittemore, who allowed just three hits and struck out three.
Then in the seventh, with one out, junior Savannah Wood (Tappahannock, Va. / Essex) reached first on an error, advancing to second on the same play. Senior Harley Jones (Brodnax, Va. / Brunswick) stepped into the box and launched a double to center field, scoring Wood and tying the game at one.
After Whittemore got three pop-outs in the bottom of the seventh, R-MC worked with the International Tie-Break runner on, but left the runner – sophomore Taylor Sanderford (Mechanicsville, Va. / Atlee) – stranded at third.
In the bottom half of the inning, VWU converted its opportunity. After sacrificing to move the runner, the Marlins drew two walks. With the bases loaded, Randolph-Macon got its second out of the inning, cutting the Marlin runner out at home plate. But with the bases still loaded though, the Marlins were able to score on a single to end the game.
R-MC tallied two hits – Jones' RBI double in the seventh and sophomore Sami Davidson (Stafford, Va. / Brooke Point), who singled in the fifth inning.
Randolph-Macon 2, Virginia Wesleyan 1
In the nightcap, both teams got runs early. In the top half of the inning and with two outs, Wood walked and then stole second. The next batter, Jones, singled, scoring Wood, though was thrown out at second for the third out of the inning.
Virginia Wesleyan answered in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff batter Kiersten Richardson singled and was bunted over to second. Then, third batter Cassetty Howerin doubled to center to score Richardson.
But after that, Rhoads took over. She struck out nine batters over the final six innings, including all three batters in the bottom of the seventh inning to close out her tenth win of the season.
Randolph-Macon's offense did its job in the sixth inning. Whittemore led the inning off with a single to right center. After being bunted over to second by Wood, VWU intentionally walked Jones. After a flyout for the second out of the inning, sophomore Shelby Hill (Mechanicsville, Va. / St. Margaret's) stepped to the plate. Hill sent a single to left center that scored Whittemore, which proved to be the winning run.