NORFOLK, Va. – The Haverford College softball team is heading to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time in program history after a thrilling 7-6 victory against No. 2 Salisbury in the winner-take-all championship game. The tournament's seventh game was forced after the Sea Gulls won Sunday's first game by a 5-1 score.
The final game against the nationally-ranked Sea Gulls was a game of momentum swings as Haverford scored a pair of runs first, which were answered in the bottom of the third. The Fords took the lead for good with four runs in the top of the fifth and added another run in the sixth before a holding on in the dramatic conclusion.
Haverford got the jump in its win with two runs in the top of the first. Rachel Wolfson and Julia Blake got the game rolling with a pair of hits during the contest's first three pitches. Kristin Tatum followed that up with an RBI single into centerfield before a sacrifice fly from Kaitlyn Guild made it 2-0.
Sara Tauriello started the game in the circle, but it would not be until each of the Fords' pitchers took their turn in the circle that Haverford finally secured the victory. Salisbury tied the game at two with three straight singles and a sacrifice fly in the third inning. A line drive double play to Wolfson at short prevented any further damage in the inning.
The Fords got a shutdown inning from Tauriello in the fourth and had their biggest offensive inning of the tournament in the fifth to reclaim the lead. Singles from Emily Winesett and Wolfson, coupled with an error on a sharply hit ball from Blake, loaded the bases. Jessica Koshinski doubled into the left centerfield gap for the first two runs of the inning. A second error off a ball from the bat of Guild scored a third run, while the scoring came to a close for the frame on an RBI groundout from Miwa Wenzel.
Haverford scored its final run of the game in the top of the sixth with a one-out single from Wolfson and double into right centerfield from Blake that made the score 7-2. Even with just six outs of life left, Salisbury was far from done. The Sea Gulls had five straight batters reach with one out in the sixth. The final two batters to reach in that inning forced in runs on back-to-back hit by pitches. Nevertheless, Winesett came in from right field to get a fly out to left and ground ball to third and escaped with a 7-5 lead still intact.
Down to its final at-bats of the season, the Sea Gulls started the bottom of the seventh with a hit by pitch and back-to-back singles which put the game-tying run on second with one run already in and nobody out. That prompted a call to Kendall Chambers and she responded by getting a ground ball to Koshinski at third. The Fords' third baseman stepped on the bag for the force and fired across the infield for the double play. Chambers then sealed the victory with a strikeout looking on a 2-2 pitch.
The seventh and final game of the Norfolk, Virginia Regional was forced by Salisbury after the Sea Gulls were 5-1 winners in the early game. The Sea Gulls scored the opening run in that game following a leadoff triple. Haverford answered with an RBI double from Koshinski in the bottom half of that fourth inning. However, it was another run in the fifth and three runs in the sixth that ultimately forced the decisive seventh game.
With a ticket officially punched to the NCAA Super Regionals, Haverford will now travel to Messiah this weekend for a three-game series that will determine one of eight trips to the NCAA College World Series. The series with Messiah will open on Friday at 4 p.m. The best-of-three series will resume at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the if necessary game to follow the second game on Saturday.