Royals Advance In ODAC Tournament With Walk-Off Win

Shortstop Danielle Brenneman made crucial plays in the field and at the plate. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Shortstop Danielle Brenneman made crucial plays in the field and at the plate. (photo by Scott Eyre)

Eastern Mennonite earned a walk-off win to advance to Day 2 of the ODAC Softball Tournament in Salem, Va. Danielle Brenneman (Waynesboro, Va./Stuarts Draft) executed the game-winning squeeze play in extra innings to forge a 3-2 win over Randolph in an elimination game.

After dropping an opening round game to third-seeded Lynchburg, the win over Randolph pushed EMU to a game Saturday morning at 11:00am, facing #8 Guilford. The Quakers upset Virginia Wesleyan, the top ranked team in the nation, before falling to Emory & Henry in the second round.

#3 Lynchburg 8, #6 EMU 0 – 5 innings
Tiffani Shaheen
(Fluvanna, Va./Fluvanna County) drew a leadoff walk to start EMU's tourney play and the speedster moved up to second on a successful sacrifice from Brenneman. A pair of strikeouts left her stranded, and that set the tone for the game.

Lynchburg, meanwhile got a one-out single in their first at-bat, and took full advantage of an EMU error. With two outs, LC combined a walk with three hits to bring in five unearned runs and put the Royals in the hole.

Sam Breeden (Aroda, Va./Madison County) led off the second with a single, but three straight outs left EMU empty again. The Hornets struck another two-out rally in the second, with a bases loaded triple bringing in three to make it 8-0.

EMU didn't manage another baserunner, taking the mercy-shortened loss to send them to the loser's bracket.

Breeden ended with the women's only hit with Shaheen the only other baserunner.

Sydney Reath (Williamsburg, Va./Mercersburg Academy) started in the circle, giving up all eight runs in 1.2 innings for the loss. Kelsi Martin (Buena Vista, Va./Parry McCluer) allowed one hit over the final 2.1 frames.

#6 EMU 3, #7 Randolph 2 – 8 innings
After a short break, the Royals returned to the field against Randolph, a team they had swept on the road during the regular season. EMU left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, and stranded another runner in scoring position in the second. The WildCats got back-to-back doubles with two outs in the third to score the first run.

Reath hit a one-out double in the Royals' half of the third and Breeden reached on an error. With two outs, Martin flipped a single over third base to chase in both runners, giving EMU their first runs of the tourney and a 2-1 lead.

The women continued to threaten, leaving the bases loaded in the fourth, runners on the corner in the fifth and a runner on third base in the sixth.

Martin, meanwhile, was cruising in the circle. Including the final out of the third, Martin retired 10 straight WildCats to keep the one-run lead into the seventh.

However, back-to-back singles to start the seventh broke that string and suddenly put the lead in danger. An infield pop-up earned the first out before a gapper to right center brought the runners around. The first run scored to tie the game, before Brenneman cut off right fielder Taylor Hensley's (Orange, Va./Orange County) throw and gunned a strike to home, giving Breeden plenty of time to tag out the second runner to prevent more damage. Martin coaxed out a pop-up to get out of the inning, leaving a runner stranded at second.

Erin Rockwell (Alexandria, Va./Bishop Ireton) led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and Martin sacrificed her to scoring position. A pair of outs ended the rally, however, sending the game to extra innings.

Utilizing the international tiebreaker rule in the eighth, Randolph wasted their opportunity as the leadoff batter popped it up to short. After a sacrifice earned the second out, a grounder to third ended the at-bat.

Pinch runner Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) started on second for EMU, putting a speedy runner in scoring position. Madison Cash (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) sacrificed her to third for the first out. Shaheen followed with a fantastic bunt single and took second when the WildCats threw it to third to keep Hoskins in check. Brenneman then pushed a bunt single to the right side, scoring Hoskins on the perfect squeeze play.

The women out-hit Randolph 9-5 and also drew six walks. Brenneman finished 2-3 with two walks and the game-winning RBI. Shaheen had a pair of hits while Breeden added two hits and a walk. Martin and Alia Miller (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) each reached twice as well.

Martin threw all eight innings in the circle and allowed just five hits with no walks.

Sydney Reath's double in the third not only turned into EMU's first run of the game, but the junior also broke the EMU records for doubles in a season (17) and doubles in a career (41). She hit 11 doubles as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore. Miranda White previously held the season record with 16 doubles in 2006, while Molly Smith (2011-14) held the career mark at 40.