Seniors Help Royals Win Final Home Game

(l-r) Seniors Brittany Viands, Sydney Reath, Dallas Crawford and Beck Hoskins. (photo by David Meehan)
(l-r) Seniors Brittany Viands, Sydney Reath, Dallas Crawford and Beck Hoskins. (photo by David Meehan)

EMU gave their fans almost five full hours of softball on Saturday's Senior and Alumni Recognition Day. Despite an extra-inning loss in the opener, the Royals rolled over visiting Randolph 6-2 in the nightcap, ending the festive day on a positive note.

Eastern Mennonite (15-17/4-12 ODAC) gets a day of rest on Sunday as their ODAC doubleheader at Lynchburg was postponed to Monday because of forecasted rain. Monday's road twinbill against the No. 19 Hornets starts at 3:00pm.

Randolph 8, EMU 7 – 10 inn.
The opener was a wild affair full of lead changes, extra innings and plays at the plate.

EMU scored first on a bases loaded walk in the second, before the WildCats put together five singles to score three runs in the top of the third. A pair of leadoff walks in EMU's half of the inning started a rally with a double from catcher Emily Davis (King George, Va./Fredericksburg Christian) bringing in the second run of the frame to knot up the score at 3-3.

Alia Miller (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) started things up in the fifth with a one-out single. Senior Dallas Crawford (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) replaced her on the basepaths and scored the go-ahead run when Sydney Reath (Williamsburg, Va./Mercersburg Academy) crushed a three-run home run to left field, putting EMU ahead 6-3. It was a ringing highlight for Reath, a senior who was playing her first game of her final season after rehabbing a shoulder injury.

The momentum didn't last, however, as the WildCats plated three more runs in the sixth to tie the game and chase starting pitcher Kelsi Martin (Buena Vista, Va./Parry McCluer).

Randolph looked to make some noise in the seventh, but the Royals turned a sacrifice attempt into an inning-ending double play when the runner tried to advance to third. The women put runners on second and third with one out in their half of the frame, but two hard-hit balls found gloves and because two outs as the game went into extra innings.

The WildCats snuck in their runner in the eighth on a botched squeeze play. The runner got caught in a rundown, but EMU's catcher was ruled to be blocking the plate, allowing the run to score. Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) tied it with two outs in the Royals' frame, as her bloop single to center tumbled out of the diving Randolph player's glove.

Emily Campbell (Broadway, Va./Broadway), who had replaced Martin in the sixth, got three straight outs to leave the visitors scoreless in the ninth, but EMU went down just as quickly in the bottom to send the game to the tenth.

A full-out collision at the plate was ruled clean in Randolph's half of the inning, allowing the WildCats to again score and get ahead. Davis prevented further damage by turning an acrobatic double play, diving to catch a bunted ball and then throwing to first to double up the runner.

Reath hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the frame, but Davis, who had started at second, was thrown out at home. Reath wisely moved up to second on the throw home, but as the tying run was left stranded in scoring position by a pop-up and strikeout.

The Royals had only eight hits but drew six walks in the marathon, which lasted two hours and 58 minutes. Reath finished 2-5 with her three-run bomb. Hoskins was 2-4 with a walk, scoring once and driving in another. Miller and Davis also reached base twice each.

Campbell took the loss from the circle despite giving up only one hit over 4.2 innings of relief.

EMU 6, Randolph 2
The Royals recovered quickly in the second game, getting a double from Hoskins and a two-out RBI single from Miller in the bottom of the first.

Meanwhile, Miller was cruising in the circle. The sophomore retired the first eight batters she faced, and only allowed a pair of infield singles over the first four innings.

Her offense picked her up in the bottom of the fourth, triggered by Sierra Lantz (Broadway, Va./Broadway) driving a leadoff standup triple. Cassidey Chrisman (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) brought her in with a double. Mongold shot a single up the middle to bring in runner Brittany Viands (Hedgesville, W.V./Hedgesville), and Miller helped herself with an RBI single to make it 4-0.

The WildCats finally cracked the scoring column with a two-out single in the top of the fifth, and then back-to-back leadoff hits in the sixth cut the lead to 4-2. But Miller regained controlled with three straight outs to end the sixth.

Nicole Mongold (Page County, Va./page County) led off the bottom of the frame with a double and the Royals were in business once again. Miller and Chrisman each had RBI hits as EMU put the margin back at four, 6-2.

A pair of walks to start the top of the seventh meant trouble, but Miller coaxed out enough ground balls to leave the bases loaded without Randolph having touched home.

EMU banged out 13 hits with four walks, led by Miller batting 3-4 with three RBIs and a run. Lantz had two hits and a walk, while Hoskins, Mongold and Chrisman each had two hits and accounted for two runs. Davis earned two walks.

Miller scattered seven hits from the circle and earned the complete game win.

Brick Dedication
The day included a pregame ceremony dedicating the personalized bricks laid as part of the built-in terraces behind home plate at Gehman Field. The terraces were funded by the Kaitlin Aylor Memorial Fund, in honor of the incoming EMU softball player who died in an ATV accident in August 2014. The bricks were installed by Colby Pettit, owner of Progressive Concrete Construction of Harrisonburg.

Senior And Alumni Recognition
EMU's four seniors were honored in pre-game ceremonies. Sydney Reath, Beck Hoskins, Dallas Crawford and Brittany Viands each played their final games on their home field. The Royals also welcomed back former players and coaches from the 38-year history of the EMU program. Eastern Mennonite owns the first-ever Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship in the sport from 1990, and added another title in 2010, becoming the first-ever No. 8 seed to win an ODAC Tournament.